"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
February, 2008

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2/29 Subject: Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Court Action Filed by State to Protect California's Forests
GAAS:107:08
For Immediate Release: Contact: Aaron McLear
Thursday, February 28, 2008 Bill Maile
916-445-4571

Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Court Action Filed by State to Protect California’s Forests

Governor Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement after the state today filed a U.S. District Court complaint contesting four Southern California forest management plans. In August 2007, the United States Forest Service denied California’s appeals of management plans for the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests.

“Protecting California’s forests and wildlands has been a priority of my administration since my first day in office. I have said many times how important it is that we keep these cherished and valuable lands free from unnecessary and damaging roadways.

“Today, in the face of threats, we are forced to once again stand up for California’s forests. Despite repeated attempts to ensure that the United States Forest Service honor its written assurance that California’s roadless areas would be protected they have failed to do so.

“Under my administration, California’s forests will be safeguarded. The court action filed today by my Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman to hold the Forest Service accountable to its word and to the law is a testament to that commitment. The people of California deserve nothing less.”

Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman filed the complaint, through the Attorney General's Office, challenging the four Southern California forest plans after the federal government denied the Agency's appeal. Governor Schwarzenegger has been tireless in his efforts to protect California's forests, consistently advocating that "roadless areas in California will remain roadless."

###

2/29 Ab,

I am sure you have seen this, but thought you might want to post it on the site, if you haven't already.

Aardvark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2008
10:58 AM

CONTACT: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Mark Davis [NFFE] (920) 992-6208;
Carol Goldberg [PEER] (202) 265-7337

Forest Service Outsourcing Program a Fiasco, GAO Finds Scathing Report Rips Firefighting Erosion, Illusory Savings and Law Violations

WASHINGTON, DC - February 21 - A Bush White House initiative that pressures federal agencies to put civil service jobs up for bid by private contractors has wreaked havoc in the U.S. Forest Service, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today. The GAO found the program put the nation’s fire response capabilities at risk, violated congressional restrictions and used shady accounting practices to hide costs – findings that validate past criticisms by National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Forest Service Council and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Under the Bush administration “competitive sourcing” program, work performed by federal employees is either outsourced or awarded to in-house, quasi-contractual “service providers” formed by wrenching internal reorganizations. GAO concluded that Forest Service competitive sourcing –

  • Risked jeopardizing “the nation’s ability to fight fires and respond to other emergencies” by failing to consider how outsourcing positions affected the agency’s ability to respond to forest fires and other emergency situations requiring immediate on-the-ground capabilities;
  • Violated Congressional spending limits imposed to prevent abuse;
  • “[C]ould not substantiate the savings it reported to Congress.” In one case, costs of roughly $40 million were excluded from the $35 million in savings reported to Congress.

“We welcome the findings of this independent GAO review as an important first step in bringing some accountability to this misguided and counterproductive program,” said Mark Davis, Chair of the NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee, noting that the Forest Service follows the same OMB accounting guidance used by all federal agencies, thus throwing in doubt any White House claims of major savings from competitive sourcing. “A broader, government-wide review is needed into OMB’s role in encouraging misleading accounting practices and outsourcing inherently governmental work.”

GAO typically uses guardedly euphemistic terms in its publications, yet in this report it employed blistering language to describe the Forest Service competitive sourcing program, such as –

“This is a massive undertaking whose long-term success will depend on a realistic strategic plan, clear guidance to identify the key work activities that should be excluded from competition, and a strategy to assess the cumulative effect that outsourcing a large number of federal jobs could have on its firefighting capability. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has none of these in place.”

“From day one, competitive sourcing in the Forest Service has been an utter horror show,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The fact that the Bush administration still touts this misbegotten program as a ‘management reform’ is an indication of just how late in the day it is.”

In the current FY 2008 budget, Congress barred the use of any further funding for competitive sourcing in the Forest Service – a ban that ends this October unless extended. Meanwhile, competitive sourcing continues in other agencies.

###

Read the GAO Report on Forest Service Competitive Sourcing

Learn how the Forest Service kept its outsourcing losses off the books

Examine the termination of the fleet maintenance contract for shoddy and unsafe work

View the conflict between Forest Service firefighting capability and outsourcing

Look at congressional restrictions on Competitive Sourcing in Interior and Forest Service

See the current effort to prepare Forest Service biologists for outsourcing

Revisit how Forest Service could not pass its own audits to document outsourced savings

Find out more about the competitive sourcing process

###

www.commondreams.org/news2008/0221-04.php

2/28 What may be one reason that is wrong with the Forest Service hiring.

I know of an applicant for the AFEO GS-06 position that didn't put down all his
time in Grade as a GS-05 and his application was rejected because he was 12
days short of qualifying. He actually has 1 year and 8 days to his credit
for the GS-06 position. Does 12 days short of time in grade really make a
difference in experience. What does this tell employees about our retention
issue. Why do we only have 56 applicants for this position, is it an AVUE
problem that we have known about for some time and no one fixed it?
For me I would like to see hiring back in the hands of the Supervisors who
will have to deal with the Employees.

Sign me, seen the process and it still leaves me confused

2/28 401 jobs in AVUE

Anyone out there got any great tips for making sure you receive due
consideration for a 401 position if you are trying to qualify through
education and experience rather than with a four year degree? I know I
should be good to go with my background but keep getting rated as
unqualified even with an AS degree and several credits completed through
the 401 program at one of the universities participating in the 401series.
I am also curious to here from anyone out there that has completed TFM and
made it into a 401 job through AVUE. Currently have been removed from
consideration for at least three 401 11 positions even though i am
currently a Zone FMO with a huge program.

Thanks
Bleeds green but about to go postal

2/28 Mellie said...

My best hope right now is for Administration change that leads us to a scenario in which the FS is funded
and fire suppression is a separate funding stream like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and the like. Where
that money would come from is the question.

The DOI, NPS does this already. Its called "FirePro" funding. Its not perfect, but it keeps the Park managers
from re-directing fire funding to maintenance/rangers/etc...

L -- C -- E -- S

2/28 56 applicants for the AFEO jobs in R5

Well everyone, 56 applicants for the AFEO jobs in R5, and i heard 90% of them were for So Cal. Sounds like it might be time for the RO and HR people to make them GS 5/6 jobs. I don't know if you all realize that even though they have Merit and Demo Certs, people that are already employed with the USFS and have permanent status cant demo into these jobs. If anyone can answer the question of why for me ? I would thank you so much. All this is doing is making people that would probably stay with the agency leave.

I was the acting AFEO last year on my engine as a GS-5, I couldn't get a detail because I did not have 90 days as a GS-5. I was the operator all but 2 days last summer. It didn't bother me because I was looking ahead and knew that it would look great on a Cal Fire Application. But not to worry my USFS friends, I will see you under unified command on the big one.

So on a another note, does anyone know when the Cal Fire FAE hire round is going take place?

Yours,
Itsbeenfun

2/28 Can I get some clarification on this post?

Does this mean there were only 56 applications for R-5
Are they going to pull another list soon?

"56 applicants for the GS-6 AFEO. That's it, 56. The region's
stance on hiring GS 5's is now showing why special Ed and
others (Randy Moore) need to become engaged."

AV

2/28 Lori & Quilts

Lori

I can donate some evenings, a day off here and there and beginner quilting
skills if there is someone more knowledge able about quilting to keep my
stitches in line.

Perhaps Bearly Quilting in Sonora can help or the Sierra Quilt Guild
( quilt@ nospan sierraquiltguild.com ) could help out with with a quilting
bee...

Strawberry Mom
Buffy

2/28 I have the upmost respect for Ken Snell and think his leadership is needed at this time. I have had the
opportunity to talk with him about safety issues and concerns. He not only listened but took the
recommendations given to him and is implementing the changes for the 2008 fire season. I feel he really
cares about the folks on the ground and is willing to have an open mind.

I think we all need to have an open mind and be willing to listen to each other.

Jodi P

2/28 Underfunded,

Ken Snell is right on the money with how he's evaluating things and thanks for posting his message. Somehow some bottom line communication has to happen on what's really at stake now.

The Forest Service is on such a drastic budget crunch trajectory that it is trying to transform itself. Change can be very good and if we don't try to make it, someone else will do it for us. However, "Transformation" may only postpone the inevitable if there are not budgetary changes and clarification in how fire suppression and fire preparedness are funded. One of the possible alternatives -- if transformation doesn't work or other funding changes can't be made -- is that fire could be taken out of the FS and put into DHS or FEMA and the FS merged with DOI. I am still on the fence about whether agency change for fire would be good. This may take lots of work, but Congress could just say, "Make it happen."

My best hope right now is for Administration change that leads us to a scenario in which the FS is funded and fire suppression is a separate funding stream like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and the like. Where that money would come from is the question.

More later when I have time.

Mellie
2/27 I have a site that explains propane for users in non technical terms. I also have a page that helps propane users prepare
for potential wildfires. Would it be possible for you to link to my “tank and wildfire” page? I believe it will be beneficial
for your visitors as your site is directly related to safety issues that I am trying to explain on this page with regard to
propane consumers that may experience a wildfire. The page is-

www.propane101.com/propaneandwildfires.php

The site is non-commercial and promotes nothing other than the understanding of propane… and hopefully will prevent
accidents, save lives and minimize property damage.

Thanks for your consideration.

-Matt Terry
2/27 Free at last - Free at last - great Gawd almighty, Free at last!
Hot off the wire from Mizzula, Judge Don Molloy has decided NOT to hold our friend (and USDA Undersecretary) Mark Rey in contempt of court because his lack of responsiveness in the fire retardant lawsuit. Another Constitutional crisis averted in the Natural Resources world, but surely not the last we'll see between now and January 20, 2009.

Hundekot
2/27 Keep Hammering:

If one would read R6 Director Ken Snell's letter closely it is mostly pointing out that the fuels program in the Forest Service-WFHF funded program is important to keep the agency tied to the fire program. And it is and his point is that once that tie through to resource management is broken, then reorganization is inevitable. Which means that fire response/incident management responsibilities would be largely taken away from the FS.

Now one may or may not agree with if that should happen, but someone of Ken's inlelligence should not be taken lightly or as if he does not understand the situation. He does and he cares.

Be careful what you ask for...

Intothewind

2/27 The Forest Service needs Fire to keep from becoming irrelevant?!?

REALLY? Is that the best Ken Snell can come up with? I am speechless from the absurdity of that statement!

-Underfunded

2/27 Mark Rey Cleared of Charges

AB

An update to the Mark Rey trial in Missoula states he was cleared of contempt charges and ruled that the agency
has competed his order to review the environmental impact of fire retardant.

NorCal FBAN

2/27 Snell said:

The Forest Service has much to provide the American public such as open
space/recreation/solitude, clean water/air.

Seems like this Snell person has taken in one to many of the old Harbour sunrise and sunset speech. Good grief. Take a break Snell. It's your fellow upper level managers working on moving fuels from fire to veg.

Snell and all: Get very familiar with the idea that Fuels is leaving fire and going to Veg. Can anyone say TRANSFORMATION! Just visit the TRANSFORMATION fsweb site. Some forests are already moving ahead with reorgs (so cal forest) to move fuels out of fire and into veg mgt.

To this end, I say take it. Let veg mismanage the the fuels program for about 3-4 years. We will get it back when the phone calls and emails come in from concerned citizens and elected officials. Since the RO/WO are allowing for more ticky, secert ways to report fuels accomplishments, I don't think Forest Service Fire employees should be within 25 feet of the program. Give it to veg and have them call us when they need us to put some fire on the ground, as long as veg employees are involved in the shady reporting of accomplishment. Our new number will be 1-800-FED-FIRE if you need us.

We are going to spend our time the next 3-4 years working towards centralized fire management or a separate fed fire department.

See ya Snelly........

Signed,

Keep hammering!!!!!!! P to P in 2008 !!!!!

2/27 Noname:

I believe the Retention things that were sent to the WO were:

1. Clarity of the agency fire mission, not change the USFS Mission; and
2. Pay, which is not just limited to the portal to portal issue.

Pretty important distinctions.............

TC

2/27 I have a fire behavior question.

Part of a weather course I'm studying has the following information -- a phenomena I've never heard directly
discussed in fire circles. (Although our Watch Out Situations would certainly cause us to take notice.) I don't
think I'd want to be near a fire while something like this happens:

"Dry heatbursts are responsible for a rare weather event called "Heat Bursts". Heat bursts usually occur at
night, are associated with decaying thunderstorms, and are marked by gusty, sometimes damaging, winds,
a sharp increase in temperature and a sharp decrease in dewpoint.

While not fully understood, it is thought that the process of creating a dry microburst begins higher in the
tmosphere for heat bursts. A pocket of cool air aloft forms during the evaporation process since heat energy
is required. In heat bursts, all the precipitation has evaporated and this cooled air, being more dense than the
surrounding environment, begins to sink due to gravity.

As the air sinks it compresses and with no more water to evaporate the result is the air rapidly warms. In fact,
it can become quite hot and very dry. Temperatures generally rise 10 to 20 degrees in a few minutes and have
been known to rise to over 120F (49C) and remain in place for several hours before returning to normal."

What do you know about this?

Still Out there as an AD

2/27 While Mellie said that "Environmental groups are always looking for how to get the first crack started and then they widen it",
a gentleman from the other end of the spectrum isn't just looking for a slight crack to further his cause: according to today's
Missoulian, Mike Dubrasich of Lebanon, Oregon thinks that the "Ninth Court and the Sierra Club are slime ball arsonists"
and he suggest that "if you know a Sierra Club member, please feel free to set their home on fire. I'm suggesting it, but I'm
not advocating it."

More from Mister Dubrasich: "The Sierra Club is “an abomination and toxic to the environment,” he writes, adding that “if the
fire devastates a forest, ruins a watershed, burns private homes, and kills people, then they applaud. That's exactly the kind of
fires they desire. Anarchy and Revolution courtesy of America-haters, and nature be damned.”

To read more about this enlightened protector of our forests, who claims to be a Forester and consultant, check out the Missoulian at
www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/02/27/news/local/news02.txt.

Maybe this is why we need to have our wildland firefighters cross-trained in structural suppression techniques: some Sierra clubbers
have been known to have homes in the woods, and Mike and his like-thinkers (or non-thinkers) may be out and about.

So what's a guy to do: resign from the Sierra Club, or increase your fire insurance coverage?

Mollysboy
2/27 Sounds to me that the R6-Fire Director is out of touch reality.  Which in that particular region would be a gain to separate
and get away from contracting.  Costs are very high in that region from the amount of contracting that occurs. 

On a positive note.  Two of the "MAIN" suggestions that came out of the recruitment and retention meeting to the WO was,
1. change in USFS mission and
2. portal to portal pay. 

The numbers have been ran at the RO which indicate a little increase in costs which come out of WFSU funds not WFPR. 
So with that mentioned, the increase in retention and recruitment along with increased mitlia interest would probably level
the cost increase.

Noname Fire

2/27 Firehorse,

A total of 4 quilts were completed with lots of patches and materials left over. We are hoping to find somebody to pick
up where Nora left off. 2 of the quilts went to the foundation and the other 2 were given to Eva's family and ours. Vicki
and I have discussed how to auction these off ( yes, I did tell her that she can't keep them as much as she would like to!)
and I believe that they will be going on Ebay. I'm not sure exactly when - perhaps as fire season gets going and the OT
is rolling in. I will keep you updated on that. Remember, when they do come up for bidding - bid often and bid high!!!!

Lori
2/27 From this morning Missoula newspaper~

Faced with possible jail time, U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey apologized Tuesday to a federal judge
in Missoula for the Forest Service's delays in evaluating how wildfire retardant affects the environment.

But Rey, the Bush administration's top forest official, insisted the agency has complied with the National
Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Rey testified before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in a watchdog group's lawsuit accusing the Forest Service
of violating the nation's top environmental laws through its use of fire retardant. snip (etc.)

NorCal FBAN

No link was sent with this and we won't post more or risk being in violation of copyright. Feel free to click the news button at the top and go to the news page for a search. Ab.

2/27 Storming Boise: May 17 - 18, 2008 is the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Family Day

Listen folks, while polishing the leaves of my plants yesterday, I got to thinking about all of the crap that is going on and how we all need to do something to unite us. Something kind of like the Civil Rights Movement's march on Washington. I ain't one for marching, so what ever we do it has to be fun and support a cause. As y'all should know, May 17 - 18, 2008 is the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Family Day, I know this is right at the begining of "Fire Season" but so what! Let's all storm Boise for a weekend and support the Foundation and the families from the past, present and future. The Native American ceremonies and the sweat lodge were experiences that I'll never forget and look forward to participating again this year. I don't know if the Cottonwood Station would support all of us but it would be a blast to go up there for a big ass BBQ and a sweat. Bring some peace of mind just for a few days. I'm attaching (or going to attempt to) the registration form. Bring your families, have some fun, take your cause to the lodge and don't forget your $52.00 for the club. For more information or to check out last years Family Day, log on to www.wffoundation.org . I guess I'd better let Vicky, Burke and Melissa know that I just threw this out there. If you can't get approved leave and don't have the balls to just go anyway, support the cause by joining the 52 Club.

Peace, Love and Soul to you all!

BatGrl12

2/27 Retention:

At the FS GS-6 level, 56 candidates for consideration. It would appear as some have continued to say, "We don't have a recruitment problem". Almost everyone knows that statement is untrue.

At the State level, it looks like a 200:1 level recruitment ration "competition" from positions that pay the same and have similar duties.

I will not do the work for others, but if folks want to refute the facts without proper citation... Learn and navigate the California State Personnel Board website.

Several folks at the SES and other appointed levels said that the Forest Service fire program doesn't have a recruitment problem.... It is archived in the Press over the years, Congressional Testimony, and most recently by someone trying to keep out of JAIL.... Mr. Mark Rey. Hopefully tomorrow he goes to jail.

Just last month, Mr. Mark Rey testified before Congress once again saying the Forest Service didn't have a problem with recruitment of firefighters.... Not only does he lie to federal court, he has been lying to both Congress and the American people for years.

I'm a volunteer.... see the problem?

Lobotomy

2/27 Hey all,

Key here is this sentence below which came out in opening remarks.
Court resumes today at 1430 hours, late enough for all the news media to get on scene for the evening news. Is this going to become a national dialog? (Environmental groups are always looking for how to get the first crack started and then they widen it.) The way this is lining up, the issue is likely to be discussed in the court of public opinion.

Mellie

Quote:
the Forest Service should be required to conduct a more detailed environmental review that
looks at the combined impact of aerial retardant, bulldozers and other firefighting activities.

Rey expresses regret: Ag chief says Forest Service ‘dropped ball' on retardant
By JOHN CRAMER of the Missoulian

http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/02/27/news/top/news01.txt
2/26 Re Quilt?

Some of us sent in material for a quilt a young lady was making last year. Any idea where she is on her project?

Firehorse

2/26 Ramona Air Attack logo

Ab,
I got a kick out of the Ramona logo, it's been around for quite awhile in it's various stages. Find attached two jpg's from my father's slide collection showing the Ramona logo as it appeared on Hemet Valley's TBM's at the time.

TBM 71, Shelly Knudson's TBM at Hemet for winter maint., January 6, 1966 (never mind the "ramp-rat" in the red shirt LOL)

TBM 72, John Norman's TBM reloading at Ryan AAB May 7, 1967

Enjoy,
Tom Stein

Thanks, Tom, I put them on the Logo 14 photo page. Ab.

2/26 A memorial service for Captain Tomaselli will be held at 10 a.m. March 5 at the Immanuel Baptist Church, 28355 East
Baseline St., Highland. To see more information on the memorial service and view Captain Tomaselli's memorial site,
please click here: http://vancetomaselli.blogspot.com/

Ken

2/26 QUOTE:

"It frustrates me to see so much time and discussion spent on R-5 FS
issues, and the amount of mis- information there is about what is really
going on around the country within the Federal Wildland Fire Service and
with all the Land Agencies. I spent most of my career in R-5 , I have been
in the Southeast for over eight years and there are a fantastic group of
dedicated Federal Fire Fighters out there. The issues are the same
nationally. No, the cost of living in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and
other states is not 1/8 of what it may be in R-5. Some Southern States have
the highest COLA in the Nation, and many Federal FS, NPS, BLM, BIA and FWS
Firefighters are struggling to keep their head afloat ! I applaud and feel
for the personnel in R-5, but If we are to help make any change with wages,
positions and direction we must do this united and Nationally.

This is how Congress and the public will understand it. I am glad that we
have Casey Judd out there fighting for the entire Federal Wildland Fire
Service.

Thanks , Mark"

I totally agree with Mark on this topic, the cost of living is getting higher and higher nationally, not just in CA, CA is just where it has become almost absurd. This is a national problem, and it needs a national solution.

ASB

2/26 Shawna,

Just wanted you to know that not only are the firefighters thinking and praying for you but all of their families too.
I never met Marc but I have been hearing his name for years. He meant a lot to my husband and he is missed. I
wanted to offer any help I can to the foundation. If you need volunteers for anything let me know. Ab has my
number and email.

mercimouse
2/26 This just came across my desk this morning................. R5 has had a
standard engine for awhile now, and so have several other regions.
Washington Office getting involved is kinda scary.................. There
is a huge database which is lotus notes based for all captains or feo's to
enter data on their current engines...........

TC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Subject: Forest Service Standardization of Fire Fleet

To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs
REPLY DUE: MARCH 17,  2008

Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) leadership introduced 47 Management
Efficiencies (MEs) in compliance with national leadership direction in
October 2006. These MEs were developed to identify areas for FAM to gain
program efficiency and potential cost savings.

The MEs were discussed and reviewed by the Deputy Chiefs and eventually
presented to the Chief and the Under Secretary of Agriculture, resulting in
a portion of the MEs being implemented during FY 2007.

One of the MEs selected for further evaluation and potential implementation
was the standardization of engines within the fire program. Specifically,
the Efficiency states “Establish a national policy for engine
standardization and develop a series of common models to be used
nationally. All Geographic Area needs will be considered in the selection
of standard models.” To move this forward, a committee has been
established with representatives from Fire, Fleet, Engineering, and the
Line Officer community.

In addition to this effort, the Fleet Business Process Reengineering is
moving forward to capitalize on the work done over the past year. Fleet
standardization is part of that report and this effort will tie directly
into the implementation of the Fleet BPR.

In order to assess where the Forest Service is today, we will collect some
additional data relative to Suppression and Prevention Engines. A Data
Call database has been established to facilitate gathering the necessary
information. It is critical that this letter reaches the appropriate
individuals and units within the Forest Service to provide all the data
necessary to be analyzed and report all existing equipment. The Fire
Vehicle Standardization Committee wishes to take into consideration what
currently exists throughout the organization to develop the standard that
is most beneficial. A link to the Data Call database is attached to this
message. If the link does not work, you can access the database by through
your Lotus Notes inbox by:

Click File
Click Database
Click Open
Set the Server to ENTDATA03 (if you do not see this in the list of
servers, select Other and in a few moments a complete listing of Notes
Servers will come up, select ENTDATA03)
Double click on the yellow fsfiles folder
Double click on the unit folder
Double click on the fleet folder
Double click on the national folder
Double click on USDA FS Fire Vehicle Standardization database

Please contact Linda Keydeniers, lkeydeniers@fs.fed.us, (909) 599-1267,
ext. 240 or Mike Arias, marias@fs.fed.us, (707) 562-8847, with any
questions about the Data Call. The Committee lead is Tory Henderson, FAM
Fire Equipment Branch Chief. She can be reached at (208) 387-5348 or
thenderson@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Robin L. Thompson (for)
JAMES E. HUBBARD
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

2/26 Boots

With the many SERIOUS critical issues and concerns out there .. I hope we dont get distracted by minor developments such as " The Feds chipping in for boots". Can you say .. " Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic" ?? I was at Reno yesterday and listened to Karen Woods ...Leader ?? a mono-tone " speech full of mushy-ness " ..kinda..." ,"..sort of..", " issues vetted here and there", a Leader ?? I think not .. a " react-er" maybe ..... The Fed " Fire Fighter" .. opps Forestry/Range Tech" is in a situation requiring to make progress against a very strong head-wind. We needed forceful leaders/advocates.

Signed,
35 Fire Seasons

2/26 The Forest Service could step one step closer to irrelevancy

Words from the R-6 Director of Fire.

Gorge FMO

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To: Regional Foresters.

In recent years fire suppression activities have been under a lot of
scrutiny for cost and safety, and there has been talk about developing a
federal wildland fire protection agency (if not this administration then
perhaps the next). I do not support this. Fire protection, for resources we
manage and the public, is fundamental to our mission as an agency and is
'relevant' to the public.

The only program that is holding fire management to the agency is the fuels
mgt program. If it is moved to vegetation management there will be little
reason not to ‘stove-pipe’ fire protection and lean towards one federal
wildland fire protection agency (not immediately but eventually; NIMO and
IFPM are helping to separate fire mgt from the agency). There are many that
believe this should happen. I caution against this. To be important to
the American tax payer an agency must be ‘relevant’. The Forest Service
has much to provide the American public such as open
space/recreation/solitude, clean water/air, biomass products, and yes
protection from unwanted fire. Once the Forest Service loses fire
protection to a federal wildland fire protection organization, such as
homeland security or FEMA, it will become less relevant to the public. The
signs of appreciation that are found at most large fires will not longer be
addressed to the Forest Service, but to other deserving agencies.
Relevancy is important and we should not for get it.

Thanks for taking the time.


Ken Snell
Director
PNW Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management

2/26 AB

thanks for posting our logo, the boys were waiting but with the season in cal.
this year you all had more important things on your minds than a logo.
all the new ones look great

ken

2/26 Lytle Joe said...

Karen Wood (sp?) said today at the Chiefs Meeting that one agency
issue is boots. Could be boots would be covered by a uniform allowance
or maybe there would be a contract with some boot companies.

I like my Nicks.

The DOI agencies used to have a program (still might) which re-re-reimburses fire employees for boot maintenance and purchase.
Its only $100 a year, and you have to provide a receipt showing the expense, but its a great way to get your boots re-soled every
year, and its better than nothing.

But, be careful what you wish for. I like my nicks too, and would hate to be told that I had to wear the USDA approved boots
(pretty sure they would not be nicks/whites/etc...)

L -- C -- E -- S

2/25 To Todd:

Although I did not get into the Atlantis until late tonight, I did hear a great deal about the day's discussions.

With Respect to Rocky's assessments about fire costs, he is absolutely right on point. In fact there has been discussion among members of Congress as well as OMB about taking the Fire budgets out of the mix (separating them). The concern, especially in an election year is whether doing so would cause the Administration to cut the other Forest Service program budgets.

Maybe the Agency doesn't think firefighters are smart enough to figure this all out but I dare say it has been the firefighter's voice that has caused Congress and OMB to look at separating not only the FIRE budgets but taking FIRE away from the Agency altogether based upon its ineptness at managing the program as is apparently the FS "MO" given the recent GAO report on outsourcing.

I also understand the R5 FAM Director gave a stirring !!?? 10 minute chat?

Casey
2/25 Still out there,

They aren’t finished by a long shot. After my last post the phone rang off the hook. Think about the “new, leaner, meaner, more streamlined US Forest Service without some of the local resource co-ordination centers. It is an old issue but now I hear that the North and South Zones will be combined at a new facility. Along with all of the other cost saving measures being discussed I have to wonder how long it will take to amortize this move if in fact it does occur? So far all I heard bantered about is saving money. So far after I look at the final fire costs reports I haven’t seen any yet. The use of contractors was going to cut costs dramatically. Show me the savings. Maybe by the shift but never by the length of entire incident. The costs to train and maintain agreed to levels of training is in itself a very expensive undertaking and right now the loss of talent it will cost a fortune to fill their shoes. Training is but one issue. How about the most important ingredient, Experience? That doesn’t grow on trees and can’t be gained by the old “Instant genius “ plan either. Under that concept a person is promoted to a position with little or no preparation for the new job and because they are now in the new position deemed to be an expert. In what? Stop and take a look at what is being lost. It really can’t be measured in monetary amounts. The only way I can measure it is in the tragedy’s that will occur in the near future. While the past is behind us it is also a teacher and right now no decision maker is listening to those lessons. As the sun crosses the horizon all I see are sheep at the lead and that is bad when a goat isn’t along to watch out for them.

Normbc9

2/25 Ab, from the R5 fire hire.

56 applicants for the GS-6 AFEO. Thats it, 56. The regions stance on hiring GS 5's is now showing why
special Ed and others (Randy Moore) need to become engaged.

Noname Fire

2/25 The hotels and getting paid around the clock is what our union has fought for us and won. I have seen on CAL Fire incidents where we could not get the stuff we needed its goes both ways. I have also seen the USFS on CAL Fire incidents eat at restaurants, sleep in hotels. If you want these things on a incident have your union fight for these things. I started as a seasonal working when we had the 96 hour shift , our union fought for us and got us the 72 hour shift. Cal Fire is a a department with many branches. They range from county and city contracts to wildland firefighting . I have bought stuff out of my own pocket for station us since it was not supplied or it ran low. I have no complaints , I take pride in my station and if I need to buy something out of my own pocket so be it .

Sick and Tired of the Bashing
2/25 Well let me begin by saying that my time with the USFS over the last decade has been some of the most memorable experiences of my life. I am one to strive and do the best I can for anyone that I work for. The sunrises and sunsets, the locations and assignments and just everything that comes with this job is phenomenal. I have been to places never imagined and done things to challenge my body and mind to the fullest.

But I must say that the FS needs a change and it needs one quick. The issue PAY is one of the most prominent topic that the FS faces. Pay is essential in life, we need to provide for our families by providing a roof over our heads and having food on the table. It doesn't matter what type of car you drive nor is it anyone elses concern. If you want a million dollar home then so be it but be ready to accept the consequences of actions if one can't afford it. I have been told you can adapt to the income you make, meaning that if you decide to live an expensive life then so do it, but if you decide to live cheap so be it. But fact of the matter is that times change and so do businesses. We can't buy a gallon fo gas anymore for .99 cents! We now pay 3.00 of so. So my point being that when I look at my T&A statement and then look at a flyer for a job with another agency that is paying twice what I make and the retirement is 3 fold, why not look elsewhere!! Yeah there are problems in any agency and I am not trying to escape that. I am just looking to be compensated for my time.

For me to be 2000 miles away or wherever you are on assignment and be off 8 hours a day with the responsibility of watching my crew while I am not "off duty" is not right. When I am responsible for actions of a person when both myself and an employee is off duty, where is that right? After sacrificing my life to do what I love seven months a year and even year after year now with all the fuels work, lets be compensated. Treat the ones you work with, with Duty, Respect and Integrity. Not only does that apply to the groundpounder but also with the line officer and yet even the WO.

Yep there is the famous saying" Thats just the way it is.". I know that alot of people are tired of hearing that. I have been waiting for a change but how long should one have to wait?? Do you realize that there is a point of no return? And why can't we know what the FS is talking about as far as a what they are trying to do? Secret? hmmm.

Thanks for the time.

Signed - Waiting
2/25 Well boys and girls, we're just about 24 hours away from seeing everyone's favorite USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey play the latest game of "Judge Molloy's Monopoly", taking place in a friendly Missoula, Montana Federal Courtroom.

So, the questions:
1. will the Judge allow Mister Rey to buy property on "Retardant Road" or will he have a new residence on "Jailhouse Court"?
2. does Mister Rey get pass Missoula and collect a big salary as a lobbyist in January 2009, or will he continue his Federal employment for a while longer, this time as a guest at a minimum security facility (Homeland Security, keeping our national Forests out of his hands)?
3. Will Judge Molloy "gift" Mister Rey with a pretty silver ankle bracelet, fully equipped with all the latest technology like GPS?
4. If "da Judge" sends Mister Rey off to the slammer, will Dubya pull another "Scooter Libby" and commute his sentence? Maybe we can call him "ScooterToo", just like that loveable TiggerToo?
5. Maybe Mister Rey still has a "Get out of jail free" card from his earlier days playing Monopoly?

Read all about it at http://www.oregonlive.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news/1203753310183320.xml&coll=7

Hundekot
2/25 Re: Upcoming background checks

Mark,

We all understand this is a much larger issue than just R-5. The NFFE is addressing it for the entire Nation. We are working with Casey to make sure that ALL involved are represented. I hope you don't think that we are just looking out for R-5.


Robert Ethridge
President, NFFE Local 1650
Co-chair NFFE National Fire Committee

2/25 In your photos section, I would suggest a category for Support activities
and for Coordination (like Dispatch Center, Dispatchers in action,
Expanded, Team Activities, etc.)

KEVAN L. MOORE
2/25 Thanks for the two corrections AB -I'll try, with my limited education emotional outbursts and poor literary skills, to clarify things and be more specific.-

One of the more humiliating and frustrating thing last fire season was fact that due to the sometimes overzealous cost containment effort, the crews suffered greatly with the re supply issue, type one crews averaged close to 100 days on fire last year, yet were unable to get simple specialty Items such as chainsaws, tool pins, sleeping bag zippers and GPS units replaced by the fire, these items were expected by the crews to be utilized on the fire of course, but replacing them last year seemed to be taboo. Cal Fire logistics personnel working in the supply unit, along with some our own, were notorious for scratching off those much needed items on the resupply list, they would suggest we pay for it with our project dollars from our forest, our forest of course also being budget sensitive would put a cap on our supply spending putting us between a rock and a hard place. This of course was extremely frustrating to the troops, and they would often make demoralized remarks as they watched a DC-10s make expensive "political" retardant drops and the agency in question scurry off to their motel rooms while getting paid round the clock.

The point I was trying to make was that we don't mind fighting fire in rags and broken handled shovels, but a simple gesture like supplying the workers with decent equipment, would have done wonders for the retention effort it would have shown them that they were valued by their agency.

Professionally yours
Reality check

2/25 re: RO mergers

Normbc9,

That's what happened to the old Region 7. Interesting thing is, folks have looked at trying to merge regions 6 and 10 together in the past, and always ended up concluding that it would cost more to try to run a region from "down south" than it would to maintain an RO presence in Alaska. That plus you have another whole set of federal laws (and alphabet soup) to deal with up there that is unique to Alaska.

Still Out There ...

2/25 I can not remember which boots were approved for firefighting other than the traditional ones like White’s and Nicks? Bruce
2/25 We are all in this together!

Ab,

It frustrates me to see so much time and discussion spent on R-5 FS
issues, and the amount of mis- information there is about what is really
going on around the country within the Federal Wildland Fire Service and
with all the Land Agencies. I spent most of my career in R-5 , I have been
in the Southeast for over eight years and there are a fantastic group of
dedicated Federal Fire Fighters out there. The issues are the same
nationally. No, the cost of living in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and
other states is not 1/8 of what it may be in R-5. Some Southern States have
the highest COLA in the Nation, and many Federal FS, NPS, BLM, BIA and FWS
Firefighters are struggling to keep their head afloat ! I applaud and feel
for the personnel in R-5, but If we are to help make any change with wages,
positions and direction we must do this united and Nationally.

This is how Congress and the public will understand it. I am glad that we
have Casey Judd out there fighting for the entire Federal Wildland Fire
Service.

Thanks , Mark

2/25 KJoseph,

Thanks for sharing excerpts from the May 2007 NMAC letter. This was the first time I’ve seen this letter, just shows again that They Said is the best place to find out what is really happening in the fire world.

I’m still scratching my head after reading the paragraph under the heading of “Safety.” I had to read it several times; unfortunately, it didn’t improve with age. To quote your quote:

"The primary means we achieve safety is through risk management. Risk
management is a process for measuring and assessing risk and developing
strategies to manage it. This helps leaders make sound organizational and
operational safety decisions in a logical manner. Fire leaders at all
levels should develop and cultivate high reliability organizations-
organizations that operate under very trying conditions yet achieve
extremely low error rates. In high reliability organizations, leaders place
a high priority on safety and reliability. Significant levels of redundancy
exists (sic) which permit back-up capability to compensate for failure. Fire
program leaders must seek CONTINUED AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
IN ALL AREAS OF ORGANIZATIONAL SAFETY, both for
themselves and their subordinates."

I have to say, that is some serious gibberish! The first three sentences about risk management aren’t too awful, not quite how I would define risk management but I’ll give that part a pass. But the rest of the paragraph that supposedly supports high reliability organizations appears to be the work of someone who has a rudimentary understanding of behavioral science and HROs, but knows some of the buzzwords like Error and Failure.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much support the recent increased awareness of high reliability organizing and accident theory within the wildland fire community. But it disturbs me when people misuse the terminology so badly, especially in an interagency document intended to guide the actions of our fire and aviation leaders.

Let me explain why I feel that misinterpretation of these concepts is harmful. To start, HROs are not something you plant within an organization; a HRO is the organization. From top to bottom, the organization understands the nature of the hazards their employees face, and the measures that are needed to insure their employees’ safety.

Among other characteristics, a true HRO is organized and committed to a never-ending battle to detect and eliminate latent failures (defects) within their systems before these failures can contribute to an accident. In fact, two of the pioneers of HROs, doctors Weick and Sutcliffe, now support use of the term high reliability organizing instead of the label high reliability organizations. The distinction is that they feel it is more helpful to think of HRO as a state you need to constantly strive for instead of a destination at which you will eventually arrive.

Certainly, HRO principles and mindfulness can be practiced within a crew, or within a fire management organization. But these practitioners will be susceptible to the actions of managers and coworkers who do not understand and support HRO principles.

The following two sentences are what really caught my attention. I’d be curious to know where the writer picked up these definitions of HRO qualities. I have never heard of or read about anyone else using these terms to describe a HRO.

“In high reliability organizations, leaders place a high priority on safety and reliability. Significant levels of redundancy exists (sic) which permit back-up capability to compensate for failure.”

From Managing the Unexpected: The five core HRO principles are:

Preoccupation with failure
Reluctance to simplify
Sensitivity to operations
Commitment to resilience
Deference to expertise

Notice the words safety, reliability, redundancy, or back-up capability in the five core principles? Me either. Safety and reliability are by-products you get if you religiously follow the five core principles. Building redundant capabilities might be one solution to an individual problem within an organization or system, but I don’t understand why someone would use those words to generally describe a HRO. Perhaps the writer actually intended to describe resiliency, which is something quite different than redundancy.

I also wonder where the writer got the idea that HROs apply “back-up capability to compensate for failure.” HROs are preoccupied with finding and eliminating weaknesses within their systems (latent failures) before they combine with human actions (active failures) to become an accident.

The point I’m trying to make is that when our leaders issue these kinds of statements, which are intended to guide our culture into a new direction, they need to make sure they get it right! It is hard enough trying to grapple with getting our firefighters to accept strange new concepts without our leaders pulling stuff out of their as*es. We certainly don’t need more meaningless bull*hit, there seems to be more than enough of that to go around these days.

Misery Whip

2/24 Photo - Marc Mullenix

Ab -

Here's a photo of Marc to add to the Memorial. It was taken at the Kelly USA Evacuation Center for Hurricane Katrina evacuees in San Antonio, Texas. Marc's Team was managing the facility which at times supported over 12,000 evacuees. Without any prior notice the Government of Mexico sent a military "Humanitarian Unit" to San Antonio to help in the relief effort. Through Marc's efforts a major international crisis was avoided and the Mexican Army was blended into the relief effort.

The individual on the left is the Mexican Consul for Texas, the military person is the Mexican 2 Star General in charge of the unit, then Marc, and on the right is from the San Antonio Red Cross.

I'm sure Marc had a lot of good tales to tell about this "Incident Within An Incident".

AK Old Timer

2/24 Here are a couple of others that have spoken against the Competitive Sourcing initiative.

"Congress needs to take a long hard look at the administration's competitive sourcing agenda after
such a damning report," Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said. He released the report with Sen. Herb
Kohl, D-Wis., who said the administration "played fast and free with the facts in providing a different
picture than the reality."

By Stephen Barr, The Washington Post
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2008 8:21 AM CST

Small Agency FMO

2/24 SE Fire Season

Looks like the SE is set up for another long fire season.

Firefighting funds already gone
Wildfire outbreak drains state forestry agency's 2008 budget for blazes

www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2008-02-24-0185.phpl

Season as bad or worse than 2007 expected
www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/022408/geo_250339179.shtml

Midwest FMO

2/24 Ab,

This is what my dependable DC insider tells me. First, Mellie was right when she posted in They Said about seeing a document depicting the merger of USFS R- 5, 6 and 10. It is still coming. Second, there are more Region mergers planned and all in the name of economies. The other two are merging Regions 1 and 2; then 3 and 4. After that the Region mergers of certain Forests. This is also in the name of economies and also eliminating what has been deemed (by some study already accepted) duplicate services. There is the pervading feeling at the top level that Fire has stole the show and someone has to get it back to a level which is evidently now the case. It is being set up one step at a time. BUT… Enter “They Said” as a forum and all of you professionals out there who know there is something wrong and now the time table is being adjusted to compensate for intrusions like Senate and House Hearings. There seems to be an air of paranoia right now with the planners. This whole effort is being closely supervised by Mark Rey whose task it is to pull it off. It was inferred that the Forest Service right now is being run by Mark Rey off at a distance. It didn’t pass the smell test with me at the USFS scheduled Town Meetings held in California when Rey always took the floor and implied that “This is way it is going to be.” I think this is still a Republic operating with a Democratic government system, not an Autocracy run by a bunch of ill informed bureaucrats. If you compare this to a flood fighting exercise, the sand bag operation stops and other important support duties begin while the water levels recede. The FWFSA has been able to get the Hearing scheduled and has provided some vitally important information to those conducting the hearings. Now lets see what happens when those who are part of this nightmare are interviewed under oath. I think we are dealing with Infantile Insecurity at the HQ level.

Normbc9

2/24 Ab,

Brilliant letter, great insight, thanks, I'll be in for the long haul too, the ones I worry about are the newer employees who want to eventually start families, or keep the ones they have, sunsets are nice to enjoy, but its hard to enjoy them when a persons child support and alimony payments brought about by the steady down ward spiral of equitable pay and benefits....might cloud a persons vision.
*AB Would it be possible to re post the infamous "tip toe through the tulips and watch the sunsets with me" Tom Harbor speech to the 2007 Apprentice Academy? (substitute the word famous for infamous to those of you in the "mis-management elite" club)- Or tell me whare in the archives it is,? I can't find it whaa!? It couldn't have been as detrimental and demoralizing as everyone is telling me it was, so I'd really like to judge for myself. His response was hard to swallow too, sounds like allot of people in other functions of the Forest Service are upset with fire program there fore the trendy lack of support...Whaaaah!... Used to be that fire and emergency response (hurricane relief etc.) was treated by all as a priority, even above fly by night programs like Ag-Learn, there used to even be a militia. Now I'm not sure what to think. Although if we calculate how many public resources, lives and private property were saved by the fire program as apposed to such programs as AG-Learn, NEPA, Public Relations or the failed "don't give the groundpounder much needed supplies while the DC-10 flys by,... cost containment effort." Well... we all know who would win.. by a long shot.

"on one hand you hate to lose trained people, on the other hand they're still fighting fire under a unified command system" They're going to be on the line along with the federal firefighters." Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey to reporter Erica Werner 2/12/08..........
***You decide who would you rather have protect your home .. this guy or six- GS-3 wildland firefighters

Reality Check

2/24 Re: EMS 2/14

Been looking for work between seasons and did not see this post until today. As I have said many times, there is no EMS policy in the USFS. (The current FS medical director is a Dentist?!??) Training, budget and policy are kept at an absolute minimum to limit exposure by the agency while our people are out in the field getting the job done with a collection of old first aid kits and personal items bought for use 'by the crew'. My own region, R-3, has no EMS/Medical policy that I have ever seen and I have been pushing for one for the last four years. There are no set protocols, medical direction, procedures or equipment. My own district volunteers me to be their first aid and cpr instructor (a status I received on my own time and dime) and then tells me there is no money for mannequins or materials and oh, by the way, does the course have to take all day, we also have to do AgLearn. They make the tech's go through Blood borne pathogens class to get their faller card, but then do not provide kits for the vehicles or the sawyers.

The public expectation is that forest employees (regardless of their agency affiliation; State, County or Fed) are trained and have the material and ability to provide assistance in remote settings, at least until additional help can arrive. Unfortunately this is completely untrue. For those EMTs and First Responders in the field who are responding and working with the public, be very careful and as DJP said, document everything. If something should go wrong and you have to talk to the courts or law enforcement, the USFS and many other agencies will hang you out to dry with no support whatsoever. It is unfortunate that it will take the untimely death of a forest employee or civilian who could have been saved that will hopefully and finally affect change.

Aardvark
2/24 To: Act Now,

A stunning post. Thank you.

To Small Agency FMO & others:

I spoke with Mark Davis last night. He has done an incredible job on the Forest Service outsourcing issue and indicated he'd like to put some additional efforts into the fire side of things. For those in California contacting Senator Feinstein and saying "thanks" for her desire to extend or permanently defund the FS from studying outsourcing I would suggest you also include the following:

Senator Boxer (whose staff has recently engaged the FWFSA and wants to get more involved in the issues)

Congressman Jerry Lewis, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee...especially those of you on the BDF

For those of you in Washington: Congressman Norm Dicks, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

For those of you in Oregon, Sen. Wyden Member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

For those in Colorado, Sen. Salazar, Member of the Senate Energy & NAtural Resources Committee

For those in New Mexico, both Sen.s Bingaman (Chairman) and Domenici (Ranking Member) of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee

CONTACT INFO OFFICE FAX

Sen. Feinstein 202-224-3841 202-228-3954
Sen.Boxer 202-224-3553 415-956-6701
Rep. Jerry Lewis 202-225-5861 202-225-6498
Rep. Dicks 202-225-5916 202-226-1176
Sen. Wyden 202-224-5244 202-228-2717
Sen. Salazar 202-224-5852 202-228-5036
Sen. Bingaman 202-224-5521 202-224-2852
Sen. Domenici 202-224-6621 202-228-3261

Casey Judd
2/24 Ab. Just a qucik question for you. I have seen theysaid's about fire retardant litigation. 
What is this in reference to?
 
Thanks, JT
2/23 The way I see it......looking at the numbers posted for the people leaving for Calfire Captain positions and the number of GS9's, GS8's & GS7's in Region 5 I don’t see a problem with retention......??

So Cal FS
2/23 Logos:

Ab,

All looks fine and dandy. Not much more to ad. I would like to say for the record, that my father started out with the USFS prior to the Korean War, but went to work for the CDF when he returned from the war. He spent a good chunk of his 38 years of service at Ryan Air Attack Base. Even though he was CDF through and through he had the utmost respect for the USFS and it's people, whether they were admin's or ramp rats. Some of his career had him sitting at the old Region 6 HQ, working side by side in a multi-agency dispatch center, hammering out problems and finding solutions....together. If there were politics involved, he never showed it and I never heard it. He was a team player and he didn't care what agency you worked for, it was all for the common goal and good of the communities he served.

Tom Stein (jr)

2/23 GAO and Outsourcing:

Mark Davis,

You have a good idea when you suggest people in California contact Senator Feinstein and thank her for her support.

I do suggest we go farther with this. Nothing wrong with people in other states dropping an e-mail to the Senator. As pointed out here in they said 40 states have FS employees.

I would also like to point out that "competitive" sourcing initiatives or variants of it have been going on in most all of the land management agencies. Some of these have been fairly narrow in scope such as admin function, telecommunications, animal handlers. So that picks up the last 10 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the various US territories/protectorates in the Pacific.

So send Senator Feinstein an e-mail thanking her and send one to your own Senators and Representatives pointing out the out come of the GAO report.

The job you save may be your own.

Small Agency FMO

2/23 Accountability:

ab,

been following the site for a long time and had a couple thoughts. Please bare with me... I chose to be a Forestry Technician not an English major.

First off, I want to state that I like my job even with the bull *&^%. I do not want to work for Cal Fire or any other agency at this time in my life. Unlike many who have left due to pay, I for the time being can still afford to be here and enjoy my quality of life and work environment. I hold no personal opinion or judgment in regards to those who have or plan to leave the agency as human nature dictates most will do what they need to survive. The experience and contributions of those who leave will be sorely missed by those on the ground within the FS and Fed Fire.

For Mr Rey, you are right! Our Cal Fire brothers will always be a welcome hand on the fireline and there is no doubt many from Fed fire will bring good things to their table as well as "unified command" on the fire ground. Rather than repeat what many have already said or state the obvious about your statements to congress I say this:

* Under DUTY in the Fireline Leadership Principles is says "Be proficient in your job, both technically and as a leader". The first bullet under that states "Take charge when in charge".
* You sir like so many others in Fed Fire are CLEARLY no longer in charge as far as I am concerned regardless of you title.
* You should sleep well at night knowing those of us on the ground who want effective change will take charge for you and the many others like you who are failing at the WO, RO, Forest, District, and Unit level to provide leadership.
* If you or the others like you would care to donate some of your salary to those coming up with solutions, effecting change, adapting to our curring environment and doing your job for less pay, please contact the FWFSA. Their voice has been strong where yours has been absent.
* Know this, we on the ground will continue to fight, adapt, innovate, and lay the ground work for OUR future until you Mr Rey and those like you retire or quit.

OK, I apologize for the non productive statements(grrr) and will now proceed to my point. There are a wide variety of issues we in the FS and Fed Fire face which demand creative solutions, adaptability, and compromise. The issue I wish to address is upholding and or creating ACCOUNTABILITY through the effective utilization of the Performance Based Appraisal System the FS currently has in place. Please keep in mind that the following are generalizations and in no way are meant to insult those who are actively part of the solution at any level during these turbulent times.

So let me ask a few questions as food for thought. Who is responsible for the attrition, lack of retention and failure to recognize or even respond to the obvious need for a pay increase within the Federal Fire agencies right now? To whom can we clearly point the finger? The President? Congress? WO? RO? Forest Supervisors? District Rangers? FMO's? Captains? Does this responsibility reside with one individual or a group of individuals? Are the performance standards of those tasked with the challenges we face today truly defined in a way that anyone could possibly be held accountable for our state of affairs and if not why? Do those tasked with holding these high level decision makers accountable buy into the performance appraisal process at all? Can we clearly define our issues in BLACK and WHITE and hold those responsible to a MEASURABLE STANDARD? How can someone be accountable for their decisions and actions if their performance standards are not measurable and or their supervisor does not buy into the process?

From the ground I feel lack of accountability is most easily recognizable from the GS 9 position (most likely due to my current status) although I will acknowledge its presence at all levels. There seem to be many in management who disagree with the direction of fire in the FS (Land Management vs WUI ect...), are waiting to retire, and or are proving their point (so to speak) while they are waiting to retire while refusing to address change. Amongst this generalized group are those who did at one point care but seem to have been so demoralized by lack of clarity and direction from their supervisors that they seemingly have given up. Whatever the reason for this lack of accountability and or ability to adapt to our current environment is, we all know it is unacceptable. Why are we on the ground held to such high standards, expectations and responsibility when it seems our current leadership can seemingly wait out the rest of their careers while we suffer? I feel addressing accountability (for all) through the Performance Based Appraisal System which we are all supposed to be utilizing can help us as a culture create sustainable change down the road. I propose for reaffirmation that a clear direction and mission (with buy in) can be accomplished when we as a culture are creating responsible, measurable, and quantifiable expectations for those who work under us.

We can start to instill change right now by holding ourselves accountable. LEADING both UP and DOWN in these turbulent times is a challenge those who still care are either doing or are capable of accomplishing today. We all need to ask the hard questions that must be asked and demand answers in a productive manner. We can rabble on and on about our problems or begin to hold both ourselves and our leadership (at all levels) accountable for their actions. As a first line supervisor I need, expect, and strive to create an atmosphere where I am held accountable for my own performance by those above me. All supervisors are responsible to provide clear, quantifiable, and measurable standards for rating their employees performance. My experience has been that measurable standards leads to clarity, efficiency, and most of all the tools for success. For those who do not perform, clear, quantifiable, and measurable standards lead to accountability for their actions.

Only YOU can clearly define the tools you need to accomplish and succeed at whatever level you reside in Fed Fire. I challenge the FAM Washington, Regional, Forest, District, Unit and Crew leadership of our CHOSEN organizations to take another hard look at their expectations for employees and themselves!

* Utilize the training and leadership principles we have been taught.
* ASK the questions that need to be asked.
* Hold those above and below you accountable for their actions or lack there of in the professional and constructive manner which we have all been taught.
* Present solutions.
* Tell your supervisors what you need to succeed in your job and offer suggestions.

We can no longer continue to be a reactive organization living in the past and dwelling on how things used to be. Now is the time to utilize the opportunity we in the Forest Service and Fed Fire have been presented with to ferret out the weak, substandard and absent leadership which is crippling those of us who care at all levels. Now is the time to take the lessons of the past, quality leadership, failures and successes we have learned from and move forward.
I firmly believe that once we as a culture are able to hold each other accountable for our actions and only then will we truly begin to reaffirm the current and or gain a new clear MISSION, VISION and CORE VALUES that will lead us into the future and assist in addressing the many other challenges we face.

PS: FS retention in 08 from the ground. With measurable standards comes measurable success. Anyone who rates another's performance should keep in mind the Award system ($) and be familiar with it. Spot awards up to $750 can be issued as many times as an employee meets the criteria during a rating period. Cash awards up to $2000 can be issued once during a rating period when the criteria is met. Also, QSI eligibility requirements are clearly defined and should be utilized at every given opportunity when an employee meets the requirements! If you rate someone's performance it is your responsibility to become familiar with the awards system and I believe utilize them to the fullest. Because you "never got more than $250" during your career does not constitute an excuse for educating and exercising you ability to award your employees according to the rules. Hey GS 11s, remember your 9s, hey 9s remember your 8s, hey 8s... you get the idea.

ActNow

2/24 Re: Fire Retardant Litigation Heads-Up

Probably because the Chief just announced her decision and finding of No Significant Impact - www.fs.fed.us/fire/retardant/Aerial_Application_of_Fire_Retardant.pdf (2/18/2008).

Sign me: SST4Now

2/24 Converse Hot Shots

I was on the Converse Hot Shots 1962 and 1963. In 1961 Bob Woodland was the foreman - no sup at that time. In '62 Gary Bratton was the foreman. At that time only a 15 person crew. I believe Bob Glascock was the foreman in 64 and 65. I was drafted early in 1964. When I came back from Vietnam in 66, Converse was already disbanded. I was stationed at Oak Glen as a driver from March of 66 until August 66. Then reassigned to Converse until the summer of 1968. Went to Del Rosa in 1973 and retired in 1997.

Converse Alumni include Bill Shaffer, Bob Chandler (retired Arrowhead Fire District), Greg Davis (retired USFS), Jesse James Wadkins (living in Oklahoma), and Dennis Stine (retired USFS).

Ron Regan, Retired Sup 3

Thanks Ron. I added that info to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project

2/24 I'm updating Logos 13 photo page. Ab.

Texas Canyon IHC & CalFire Team 8: Logos compliments of Tim C.

Smith River NRA: SRNRA is the Smith River NRA (Six Rivers NF) Logo compliments of PZ.

Awahtsakiiks Helitack: Here is the patch from our all native helitack crew (Blackfoot Confederacy) in Southern Alberta.  Logo compliments of Ken C, Wildlife Ranger, Southern Rockies, Canada.

CDF 1-4: CDF1, This is from the early 1960's; CDF2, Late 70's when the Dept. was created out of separation from the Dept. of Conservation; CDF3, Late 70's new shield style; CDF4, Early 80's with the addition of CDF, FIRE, and FORESTRY into the new shield style. Logos compliments of Tom Stein

2/24 Ab, here's a photo for the collection.

Dozer 2, San Bernardino County Fire Dept, slide fire 2007.

AS

Thanks AS. I put it on the Equipment 11 photo page. Ab.

2/23 The long-awaited GAO report on Forest Service competitive sourcing was
released on Thursday. Dominoes are already starting to fall as a result of
its findings.

The ban on Forest Service competitive sourcing expires on Sept. 30, 2008
unless there is Congressional action to extend it. Because of the GAO's
findings, Senator Feinstein has announced she is "firmly committed" to
extended the ban through FY 2009. Folks in CA may want to call her office
and thank her.

Also, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing
on the matter. For this, folks need to thank Senators Bingaman and Wyden.

Media coverage, Congressional statements, and press releases with links to
the report itself are posted on the NFFE Forest Service Council website at
www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/CSIndex.phpl.

We'll have a delegation in DC week after next working to lock these gains
down.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
2/23 Contract dozer on Hwy 33 north of Ozena on the Zaca Fire during firing operation.

TD

Thanks TD, dramatic. I put it on the Equipment 11 photo page. PPE? Ab.

2/23 Lessons Learned on the CA-LAC-Crags Fire-Injury with pictures: Hotlist thread  Ab.
2/23 Re "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project

I was on the Converse Hot Shots 1962 and 1963. In 1961 Bob Woodland was the foreman - no sup at that time. In '62 Gary Bratton was the foreman. At that time only a 15 person crew. I believe Bob Glascock was the foreman in 64 and 65. I was drafted early in 1964. When I came back from Vietnam in 66, Converse was already disbanded. I was stationed at Oak Glen as a driver from March of 66 until August 66. Then reassigned to Converse until the summer of 1968. Went to Del Rosa in 1973 and retired in 1997.

Converse Alumni include Bill Shaffer, Bob Chandler (retired Arrowhead Fire District), Greg Davis (retired USFS), Jesse James Wadkins (living in Oklahoma), and Dennis Stine (retired USFS).

Ron Regan, Retired Sup 3

Many thanks, Ron. I added the info to the table. Ab.

2/23 Fire Retardant Litigation Heads-Up

Folks: Fire and Aviation Management has been asked by the Deputy Chiefs
involved with the fire retardant litigation to pass on a heads-up from our
Office of General Counsel. We received the following message this
afternoon from OGC:

"The trailing email [omitted] relates an effort by a representative of
<snip, org name> to directly contact an FS employee to request documents
pertaining to the fire retardant litigation. The proper defense of this case
requires that all information requests be channeled through counsel to
insure that legitimate requests are handled correctly, confidential
information not be disclosed, and full information concerning the scope
of the agency’s disclosures be available to litigation counsel. Please
insure that your staffs are aware that they may be approached by persons
seeking information or documents concerning this case, and that they
refer all such requests to OGC."

Please pass this message along to Forest Service staff who may have a need
to see it.

In other words, if anyone is asking questions about retardant use, direct them to appropriate channels. Ab.

2/23 Coming in round robin. These are posted on the Hotlist: CA-LAC-Corral Fire E-96 Near Miss - AAR

Investigative Interview
November 26, 2007 1130 hours
Corral Fire CA-LAC-259483

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AFTER ACTION/LESSONS LEARNED
CORRAL Incident, Malibu, CA 11/24/2007
Near-Miss Incident Involving E96

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Messages with these documents:

Sheltering in a structure.

Please share this report with anyone who may become involved in structure protection.
I applaud LACO for sharing this information.

LACO does train on using a structure as a place of refuge and it paid off on this fire.
Note the crew was well briefed on the plan and SA was maintained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Attached are two reports of a near-miss involving an LA County FD engine
company during the initial attack of the Corral Fire in Malibu.

During wind-driven wildland fires structures with “good clearance” became
well involved with fire in a few minutes as embers enveloped them,
surrounding ornamental vegetation ignited, and near-by burning structures
added heat to the “fuel-load”, surprising seasoned firefighters.

Captain Scott Polgar
North Region Training & Safety
North County Training Center, Los Angeles County Fire

2/23

Anyone hear what's been going on with this? Have any other Forests
followed the LPF/OGC requirement banning the sale of a mobile homes
on Forest Service land?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: February 15, 2008
Subject: Forest Housing Policy Request
To: Forest Supervisors

REPLY DUE MARCH 17, 2008

In reviewing the Forest Housing Policy, questions of possible long-term “scope creep” are being raised regarding Line Officer approval of employee housing issues. Included in these issues are maintaining personal mobile homes or other types of housing on Forest compounds for extended periods of time. As a result, I am requesting each Forest Supervisor review and report any written Forest housing policies which have been issued by the Forest, in the past 10 years, to this office. This will allow Regional Office staff to evaluate the current “state of the region”, in regards to employee housing and how local policies may conform to established national policies.
Please provide your responses via email to Gwen Nishida, Regional Facilities Engineer @ Gwen Nishida/R5/USDAFS. Please contact George Kulick, Director of Engineering, @ 707-562-8841, if you have any questions.

/s/ Randy Moore
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From WIKI;

Scope creep (also called requirement creep, feature creep, and sometimes kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to uncontrolled changes in a project's scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence that is to be avoided.

Typically, the scope increase consists of either new products or new features of already approved product designs, without corresponding increases in resources, schedule, or budget. As a result, the project team risks drifting away from its original purpose and scope into unplanned additions. As the scope of a project grows, more tasks must be completed within the budget and schedule originally designed for a smaller set of tasks. Thus, scope creep can result in a project team overrunning its original budget and schedule.

If the budget and schedule are increased along with the scope, the change is usually considered an acceptable addition to the project, and the term “scope creep” is not used.

Scope creep can be a result of:

Scope creep is a risk in most projects. Most megaprojects fall victim to scope creep (see Megaprojects and risk). Scope creep often results in cost overrun.

Letterman

2/23 Ab,

I was thinking this morning about friends, family and others we sometimes take for granted in the day-to-day hustlebustle of our lives. Please take the time to say thanks or otherwise express your appreciation to those around you in a personal way. Too often those who make a difference in our lives may not have been reminded of that fact either enough or lately.

Several months ago I got a surprise bouquet of flowers in my very favorite colors from someone who posts here. It about blew my socks off, not that it was flowers, but that the person tailored the colors for me and sent it.

Appreciation can be expressed in different ways, especially by firefighters. I was touched by the story of Marc Mullenix being lovingly harassed by team and friends after spending the night in a motel while on a fire. Seems that everyone conspired to let him know how much they "loved" him. This is the real stuff of our lives - who we are touched and changed by and how we acknowledge the importance of their contributions in our life.

Take some time to say thanks today to someone who's made a difference to you.

Mellie

2/23 Ab, seeing the post by Chip Houde reminded me of something I wanted to get
done a while ago.

Attached are photos of the Memorial to the Men of CDF Engine 5373 who were
lost on the August 15, 1979 Spanish Ranch Fire. The fire was located 35 miles
east of Nipomo on Highway 166.

Lost that day were Captain Ed Marty, Firefighters Steve Manley and Ron Lorant.
Firefighter Scott Cox suffered critical burn injuries and died six months later on
February 3, 1980.

The fire also overran two dozers, with one operator suffering first and second
degree burns. Though I never met any of them, I have a special attachment to these
men as I helped develop a Staff Ride for the incident.

Next year, 2009, will mark the 30 year anniversary of this tragic loss of the four
men who paid the ultimate price.
The memorial is located at CAL FIRE Station 20 in Nipomo, CA.
Close-up of the plaque.

Gone but not forgotten, Tom Plymale, USFS
2/23 ***My sincere Prayers and condolences to the family, co-workers and friends of the Tomaselli's.***

Reality Check

2/23 ***Sorry dudes and dudetts spent most of yesterday completing gag-learn and I was so rushed to delve into that exquisite example of government waste that I plumb forgot to post the following reminder of another example of government waste" that we are so abundantly "blessed" with in this agency ... some of our "leaders"
So... I will refresh your memories-

To Reporter Erica Werner on 2/12/08 By the Under Secretary of Agriculture

Mr... (slight pause)..... Marrrrk Rey!..(loud applause and whistles).....

"on one hand you hate to lose trained people, on the other hand they're still fighting fire under a unified command system" The're still going to be on the line along with the federal firefighters"

Mr. Rey ....instead of making detrimental statements such as those to the press, and if you refuse to resign, apologize or retract, might I suggest that you do something useful that you might be good at like.. outsourcing AG-Learn, this would save the taxpayers millions of dollars in wasted time and tax dollars, government service and production would spike a hundred fold and you would be everyone's hero once again!!! If you are concerned about the two redundant pieces of barely useful information learned for every ten hours of "AGGin" then have the contractor send it to us via snail mail. It' a win/win situation!

**Hey does anyone have a copy of the infamous "Sunsets and Daisies" speech that Mr. Harbor gave at the Academy? I've been hearing allot of negative things about it and would like to determine for myself if it was all that bad.
PS: thanks for the mercy chuckle AB

Reality Check

We posted it. Do a search on Academy or go back to the latest archive; probably has already rotated off the page. Ab.

2/23 I have spend the last 9 years working for the forest service. Initially, I had a passion for trail crew work. I spent my first season working for the Flathead National Forest mule trailing around the Bob Marshall Wilderness fixing trails. What could be better? I was stuck out in the wilds for months on end with no way to communicate with the world. Perfect for a History major stuck in the past at the University of Montana. However, after another year of trail work and graduating from college, economics beckoned. Well, logically I signed up to fight fires. Started out on a engine crew, helitack rappeller for a year and then on to hotshot crews, which I have done for the last five years. Second sawyer on an established R-5 crew, lead sawyer, Saw boss and currently Squad boss on an R-3 crew ( no need to differentiate between regions). Anyways, my point is, I signed up for the agency because of their throwback reputation. I don't know quite how to explain my position well, but I figure another man always has better words. In the words of the great Yukon poet Robert Service, some men in this modern world just don't fit in, and this is why I fight fires.

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

Robert Service

And in response to Tom Harbour, one vacation every two years is ridiculous! I travel the world for months every year, all provided by my hard work in the summer. What a beautiful job.
P.S. The steaks in Argentina are as good as they say!

Wandering Fireman

2/23 Exodus:

So by my count:

* 6 San Berdu or Ex-San Berdu employees
* 2 Mendicino employees
* 1 Norcal Forest Employee

According to They said. Anyone got some better numbers?

Here's the stats I have from the FAE/FF2 hiring. Now keep in mind I am getting this all second hand as I pry it from various members of Cal fire.

* 4,000 applicants
* 3,000 got supplementals
* Supps. were due Jan 18th 2008
* FAE phone line says list out sometime in the spring. So that would be March, April, May
* I've heard various time frames out of various people. 2 weeks to 2 months for the list.
* FAE (medic) and FF2 (medic) interviews start in the beginning of March for the Second Round in 12 months of Medic hiring
* The list is going to be burned up inside a year is a couple predictions I've heard
* HR possibly getting ready already for another onslaught come August for FAE and FFT2 hiring. LOL

What I am curious about is: out of these 3,000 applicants how many are Fed? Losing 3,000 people in R5 would sting a bit. Even 500 people. My prediction is that Norcal in the end will be harder hit with these hirings than Socal. This will be an interesting beginning to the fire season when Cal Fire hires the lower ranks and it breaks apart effective summer modules and sends most Captains regionwide scrambling for drivers. I think that Mr. Harbour answering our NFFE president on the Angeles was a good thing. It showed me that the thought line out there is that this is our fault as ground people. That if we had a Nation first family and money last attitude that we wouldn't be in this problem. As for the people that think we already get paid too much. "Thanks for standing up for your NFFE brothers and sisters!" I wonder what would happen to all these people's jobs if we had a system like the DOI for our fire money. How many of these people would be out of a job? As for this "stick with us and you will be rewarded like a good dog" stuff from Mr. Harbour. It's kind of like what Ron White says about how far a plane can go with one engine out... All the way to the crash site.

I refuse to sit around and watch my family spiral farther and farther into debt. I get paid the same as people in Mississippi and Georgia where the cost of living is a 1/8th what it is here. I can't move from a forest that is RUS locality, because I can't afford to even rent! Yeah Mr. Harbour you hear that? I can't even afford to RENT in most places. Sounds like a bunch of guilt trips and bullS**t to me. What I don't understand is why this isn't all over CNN! They love meaty stories. Mr. Harbour come to the R-5 chiefs conference and have a Q&A with the rank and file that are there. I'll be the guy that stands up and asks you what you are doing to recruit and retain your employees to keep the Forest Service functioning into the 22nd century? And the cookie cutter evasion techniques you have been using to avoid, pass blame, or make feel guilty will not work or be acceptable. With my module and my employees the buck stops here! You have alot of people looking up at you! Does the buck stop there?

Gone but not forgotten

P.S. I get a little fired up sometimes when I see people trying to yank other people around. I need to remember when it comes to Harbour, Rey, Kimball, Bush, Our old PhD friend, and some others. Take a deep breath count to ten and repeat after me Moosefrawba. Casey keep up the good work!

2/22 About the job

I have spend the last 9 years working for the forest service. Initially, I had a passion for trail crew work. I spent my first season working for the Flathead National Forest mule trailing around the Bob Marshall Wilderness fixing trails. What could be better? I was stuck out in the wilds for months on end with no way to communicate with the world. Perfect for a History major stuck in the past at the University of Montana. However, after another year of trail work and graduating from college, economics beckoned. Well, logically I signed up to fight fires. Started out on a engine crew, helitack rapeller for a year and then onto hotshot crews which I have done for the last five years. Second sawyer on an established R-5 crew, lead sawyer, Saw boss and currently Squad boss on an R-3 crew. ( no need to differentiate between regions) Anyways, my point is, I signed up for the agency because of their throwback reputation. I don't know quite how to explain my position well, but I figure another man always has better words. In the words of the great Yukon poet Robert Service, some men in this modern world just don't fit in, and this is why I fight fires.

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

And in response to Tom Harbour, one vacation every two years is ridiculous! I travel the world for months every year, all provided by my hard work in the summer. What a beautiful job.

P.S. The steaks in Argentina are as good as they say!

Wandering Fireman

2/22 Dear Impressed:

I'm not sure if you are speaking of endorsements for President or congressional races or both.

For years we have had a number of bipartisan supporters on Capitol Hill that realize our friendship as well as credibility on the issues and the ability to help them understand the issues that face our federal wildland firefighters is often times more valuable to them as an incumbent than a large check from a PAC account.

The FWFSA does have a PAC account. Modest at best. There are some folks in Congress who have provided us with unfettered access to them for years and have cosponsored every bit of legislation we've asked them to whether it was authored by a Republican or Democrat. They know we aren't about tossing out $ 5 or 10 thousand dollar checks. If they're lucky, they may get $250.00 in any election cycle from us.

Our membership base and its support for them is what counts for them. Our increasing membership outside of California provides us easier access to other congressional offices that play a huge role in the effort to make things better for our firefighters.

Folks like Sen. Wyden in Oregon, Congressman Norm Dicks in Washington, Chair of the House Interior Appropriations Committee, Sen's Bingaman and Domenici from New Mexico both of whom Chair or have chaired the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Sen's Allard and Salazar from Colorado & others.

We don't often endorse a candidate in the manner most groups do. In other words we don't say to folks in certain areas "you should vote for this person." My personal opinion is that a vote is a very private act. That being said we obviously make sure our members know who has been supportive of our issues over the long haul. But it is their choice. If any member wants to ask us about a certain candidate I'm happy to offer any insight I have.

With respect to the Presidential election, I am in the process of planning interviews with campaign staff from the camps of Clinton, Obama and McCain to ascertain the candidate's position on our issues. I felt it silly to do it sooner given the number of candidates who would be dropping out by Super Tuesday. Having communicated with Sen. McCain's staff over the years that provides a bit of an advantage in knowing what he thinks about things. With Hillary, having had several fairly personal meetings with Bill during my time as a firefighter union president gives us some insight into her position.

As for Obama, the only tie is that he went to the same school I did in Hawaii...and he wasn't Barack Obama then. Once we get the interviews done we'll let our members know in our web site's member's area what I came away with from each candidate. However I suspect our Board of Directors will leave it at that...a personal choice for our members.

I certainly don't think we want to make the same mistake some other MAJOR firefighter union made in endorsing a candidate who fell out of the race months ago...

Casey
2/22 A question for the HR folks -
If an employee accepts a transfer to another forest, and then decides they
severely dislike the decision they have made, is there any way to go back
to their original position?

Also, there has been hard numbers on the number of CDF Captains'
positions vs. the number of applicants posted here lately. Does anyone have
the same information for the FFTII and the FAE positions?

signed- mistake?
aka - only time will tell
2/22 Nice job Ethridge. Now there is a Firefighter with some guts. Just lay it on the line out in the open. I respect that.

Promote him to a Squad Boss or AFEO this coming hiring round.

Signed,
Impressed !

````````````````````````````````````
Keep Hammering Folks!

And Remember, yes the Forest Service cannot be run by Vote. However if you do the right thing the first Tuesday in November, our voices will have a lot more effect on how the Forest Service is run.

FWFSA - Will you be endorsing this election year?
2/22 Hundekot, spit out what your talking about, we're not playing the Final Jeopardy round? We can take it.........

Forget this M.J.L. PhD.

I don't know who the h*ll MJL but my my vote is:
HARBOUR = OUT, NO CONFIDENCE.
Dr. Q = back in.

Q's the only Doctor we need around this place.

ms

2/22 Harbor Responds to Apprentice

Tom posted this on his BLOG. (internal FS web.)
http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/pao/fs_today/2008/080222/03.0About Us/harbour.phpl

A discussion with an Apprentice
By Tom Harbour Categories: Leadership
Comments 0
Recently, I was sent a posting from “They Said”. (Yes, I know about “They Said”). While critical of me, I thought the piece showed some thought was basically well written. Assuming the writer is one of our apprentices, they are new to the organization. There are some organizational misunderstandings in the document, but it raised some good issues. In this case, I think there is an important exchange to be had. So – let me try to answer the person who responded to my recent speech at the Apprentice Graduation (posted on the FAM website on the Directors corner) and let’s see where this takes us.

The note focused on three key items (1) Mission (2) Pay and (3) Ethos.

Mission – There are a number of laws which define the mission of the US Forest Service (the USFS points to the Organic Act of 1897 as one of the key defining laws). Those laws get translated into policy. In the USFS, there are sections of the manual pertinent to defining our fire management policy. After Storm King/South Canyon the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture decided the federal government needed more coherent policy. That objective was met through some iterations almost a decade after the accident. So after all that policy evolution, shouldn’t our fire management mission be pretty clear? I don’t think it’s as clear as it needs to be now, because since the implementation of Federal Fire policy, a number of new issues, mostly prompted by questions about roles and responsibility in the wildland urban interface (WUI), have arisen. At each end of the undeveloped/developed land spectrum, roles are clear. For example, we generally have no direct fire management role in downtown LA and the LFD has no direct role deep in the West Fork. The rub is the interface. The big expense is the interface. The USFS, and our partners, each see different responsibilities when fires threaten the interface. Who does what, and who pays are big questions. Others mission and our mission in the interface are not as clear in terms of responsibilities as they should be. We do great things all over America in the interface and in the wildlands, but the current question is whether or not we might be doing too much. Even inside our own agency there is great debate about our role. The USFS is in danger of being swallowed by fire and most agency folks don’t like that. As a more specific example of that confusion about mission, many, maybe most line officers do not believe we should be responding to medical aids or TC’s. But the debate about traffic collisions pales in comparison to defining what we should or should not be doing to protect homes and communities during an incident.

I’ve frequently spoken about the premium we pay for our decentralized decision making. I believe our firefighting mission is not as clear as it should be. I want more clarity in “leader’s intent” for our fire folks. Our fire folks, as well as line officers, ought to understand the role of the USFS in wildland fire in the United States. I believe we need a national wildland fire policy, not just a federal wildland fire policy. National wildland fire policy will get us the clarification we need in our fire management mission.

Pay - Nothing seems to get folks as riled up as pay. It is a hot button issue. Some folks outside fire think the fire folks already make too much money. Some folks outside SoCal think the fire folks there are already overcompensated. It is a difficult problem, even to define. I am obviously concerned about the folks leaving us and going to other agencies. The problem to me seems currently acute in SoCal. We are losing some good folks.

I want our folks to live the “American Dream”. The ability to have a home, send the kids to school, take a vacation every few years, those are things I hope our fire folks can do. When I tell our folks they will not grow wealthy in fire jobs it means I doubt you’ll join the ranks of millionaires based on your career earnings. It means you probably won’t be able to afford that 28 ft inboard Bayliner or the big new RV.

The Chief is on top of the debate about SoCal pay and retention. The Chief is examining the issue carefully. The pay problem the Chief is wrestling with is complicated. She is being careful and disciplined about the conclusions she draws. As difficult as it is, she has 30,000 employees in over 40 states to consider, not just fire folks and not just fire folks in southern California.

The more fundamental, long term point of my apprentice speech is that pay is derived from the knowledge, skills and abilities we ask of our firefighters. Those abilities are cogent only in terms of what we ask our folks to do, which stems from our mission. I’m button-bustin’ proud of USFS firefighters, they are the best in the world at what they do. What we do in the wildland community is different, in some key aspects, from what the society expects of municipal firefighters. As long as there is a differentiation between the skills expected of wildland firefighters and municipal firefighters, we’ll be paid differently.

Ethos -- Here the person who wrote the piece to me and I agree on many points. Ethos and Ethics are most important. Maybe this is the area we need to spend more time in discussion, but the writer quickly moves to pointed remarks about agency leadership. The point in my apprentice speech is that in our “line-staff” organization, “line” determines where this agency heads. The Chief makes that decision for the agency. She allows her Regional Foresters significant discretion in their decisions. Those Regional Foresters provide latitude to their Forest Supervisors. We in fire management work for those folks. We are not a separate fire department. More important than organizational schemes are the values, traits, experiences, and characteristics which bind fire folks together. We are trusted, and we must maintain that trust.

A couple more thoughts in conclusion. The writer notes his love for this nation and for the job. Nothing pleases me more than knowing that. That kind of passion for this great nation and the work we do will indeed, in my mind, ultimately help us through these troubled times. Mission and pay will get resolved by folks who are willing to stay with us. More importantly, ethics and ethos will stay strong as we stay united in our love for America and our work.

Whoever you are, I appreciate the thoughts. I hope you know you can speak to me, or write to me directly. This blog is a way to do that. Let’s keep up the dialog; these kinds of discussions are important.

Comments:
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2/22 For all of those who wish that Tom Harbour would quit/resign/retire/get fired,
I can only offer 6 simple letters for your consideration: M J L, PhD.

For those of you who don't recognize these letters, ask someone in the USFS
who was around during the 1990s.

Be careful what you wish for: it may come true!

Hundekot
2/22 Here's the article on outsourcing, lets post some
comments. dm

www.washingtonpost.com/

Fighting Fire With the Wrong Sector?

By Stephen Barr
Friday, February 22, 2008; D04

2/22 Ab

In today's Washington Post:
www.washingtonpost.com/

Fighting Fire With the Wrong Sector?

Forest Service outsourcing plans, criticized by yesterday's GAO report, could put nearly two-thirds of the agency's workforce into job competitions with the private sector.

By Stephen Barr
Friday, February 22, 2008; Page D04

The Government Accountability Office faulted outsourcing projects at the Forest Service in a report released yesterday, prompting renewed calls for more scrutiny of the Bush administration's effort to contract out federal jobs, a plan known as competitive sourcing.

The Forest Service does not have a realistic long-term plan for determining which agency jobs should be given to the private sector and does not have reliable data to back up claims of cost savings, the GAO said.

In addition, outsourcing substantial numbers of Forest Service jobs to the private sector could, over time, reduce the agency's ability to fight fires in the wilderness and to respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina.

"Congress needs to take a long, hard look at the administration's competitive sourcing agenda after such a damning report," Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said. He released the report with Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who said the administration "played fast and free with the facts in providing a different picture than the reality."

As a general rule, federal agencies are supposed to rely on the private sector to perform work that can be easily obtained in the commercial marketplace, such as computer maintenance and cafeteria services. In 2001, the Bush administration began urging agencies to put more civil service jobs up for bid by contractors as a way to lower or better manage costs.

Federal unions have lobbied on Capitol Hill to stop such outsourcing, and a number of annual appropriations bills, including one that covers the Forest Service, have restricted the practice.

But the curbs have not stopped the Agriculture Department and the Office of Management and Budget from ordering the Forest Service to push ahead on outsourcing, the GAO report suggests.

According to the GAO, the Forest Service plans to consider putting nearly two-thirds of the agency's workforce into job competitions against the private sector.

The success of such a "massive undertaking" will hinge on clear guidelines and "a strategy to assess the cumulative effect that outsourcing a large number of federal jobs could have on its firefighting capability. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has none of these in place," the GAO concluded.

The Forest Service has about 37,000 full-time employees. About 10,000 hold a job related to firefighting, and another 20,000 are certified to fight fires and respond to national emergencies.

In its report, the GAO questioned whether contractors can be expected to provide emergency services, compared with Forest Service employees who know they may be asked to volunteer for one to three weeks each year on a fire line.

"For example, the Forest Service could not hold a competition for fleet maintenance and expect firms that specialize in fleet maintenance to provide unrelated services at the scene of the fire, such as providing food and supplies," the GAO said.

The GAO also questioned claims by the Forest Service that it has saved money as the result of job competitions.

For example, the Forest Service reported saving $35.2 million in fiscal 2005 and 2006 after an in-house team won a competition to provide technology services by restructuring operations to be more efficient. But the GAO said the Forest Service excluded about $40 million in transition costs, which suggested costs exceeded savings by about $5 million.

Because of the controversy over job competitions and estimated savings, Congress shut down the Forest Service's competitive sourcing program for fiscal 2008. The administration wants to reinstate it for 2009.

In prior years, Congress has limited spending for the program. In fiscal 2006 and 2007, for instance, the Forest Service was limited to spending no more than $3 million per year.

But the GAO said the Forest Service did not have sufficient data to show that it complied with the 2006 and 2007 curbs. The agency "narrowly interpreted the spending limitations to exclude certain costs," the GAO said, citing money spent on employee salaries during studies to determine the feasibility of conducting a job competition.

In a letter accompanying the report, the Forest Service acknowledged it lacks an overall strategy to assess the effect of outsourcing on its emergency response, but said it weighs any such risk "on a study by study basis."

The Forest Service also said "it does not believe that it exceeded" spending curbs placed on outsourcing by the Congress.

Fair Use Disclaimer

2/22 Reality Check...

Stole this from one of my fellow hotshot captains but
its pretty pertinent in the day and age of Aglearn,
and whatever else we have to do to waste time from
actually doing our jobs as Forestry Technicians
........

"Staring at the land, serving the computer."

2/22 We received confirmation that Captain Vance Tomaselli from Fire Station 15 in Angelus Oaks has passed away.  Information is being posted on our site - here is the link to the story being posted.

http://rimoftheworld.net/columns/neufeld/captan

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow firefighters.

~VickiW
RIMOFTHEWORLD.net
2/22 To All:

Mark your calendars for next Tuesday, February 26th. That is the hearing date
set for USDA's Mark Rey to appear before a federal judge in Montana on
contempt of court charges. The Court will have 3 options:

1) Incarcerate Mr. Rey

2) Place him on house arrest with an electronic ankle monitor

3) enjoin the government from utilizing retardant in all 50 states until the Forest
Service complies with all court orders.

The court knows the last option is not a safe one...so stay tuned.

Fedwatcher II
2/22 Some info on Forest Service Competitive sourcing.

www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/CSIndex/PR_080221/PR_IAM.php

GAO found that the agency did not track significant
costs, excluded others, and lacked sufficient data to
back up claims of cost savings. In one case, $35.2
million in savings was reported to Congress for the
competitive sourcing reorganization of information
technology, however, this figure failed to include
costs of over $40 million. Similarly, reported savings
of $716,000 for the failed outsourcing of fleet
maintenance to Serco, a British-based corporation,
were not offset by costs that may reach several
million dollars.

And There I Was
2/22 Hugh:
So on Nov 7th Region 5 leadership is up for election? Same with Mr. Rey? Too bad I don’t live there; I would love to see that ballot and the results! When you mentioned to “vote with your feet”, did you mean leave the Forest Service, leave R5, or…? I don’t always like who we get in various political offices but I am glad we have a system that we get a voice! The good ole US of A gives everyone a right to be heard on Election Day…you gotta love it!

Smokeater:
The “no confidence” vote sounds like a great idea…after all…who has confidence in any politician or political appointee anymore regardless of party affiliation!? Sooner or later someone has to hear what’s going on for you guys. Sorry you are going through all that crap.

Casey Judd:
What else can I say to all your recent activity…WELL DONE !

Reality Check:
Great post on fire program leadership! What you said makes so much sense…then again…we are dealing with Washington. Who said they understand common sense? Hang in there! Loved the "bleader" term.

KJoseph:
Great research! I can feel the frustration in the FS. I am not aware of all of it but it has to be tough. It makes you wonder why the “leadership” can’t connect the dots between what they say and write, and what reality is!

To all of R5 and FS people:
I wish I could be more help to ya’ll, I already joined FWFSA. But being BLM out here in the boondocks there isn’t much I can do. I will watch for opportunities to comment about the sad state of affairs to our local representative and Senator and do whatever else I can. On the positive side I was able to hire 3 former FS people for our engines and they are thrilled to be here and away from the FS.

To All:
One of the local forests is looking at a potentially “devastating” and “catastrophic” fire season this year. They also mentioned in the meeting that they have been told that virtually no severity funding will be available to do anything about it. Are other forests suffering the same kind of fiscal decisions?

TMK

2/22 Mr. Harbour,

I was not in attendance when you made your most recent Apprentice Academy speech in Sacramento. I did however receive a transcript of it and have heard from many folks that were in attendance. You basically said that you were expecting responses, so here is mine:

I am curious to know when you made a 180 turn. When you gave your speech to my class, you made statements like: "you are the people who are going to help propel the Forest Service into the 21st century. You have joined the Agency at the perfect time. I see alot of change coming to this Agency for the benefit of all."

Now you are saying that the Agency is turning for the worst and that we need to go back to how it was 50 years ago. Well sir, this is not 1958. This is 2008. Times have changed. Forests have changed. People have changed. You listen to each person running for Presidential Office right now, and they tell you that our Government needs to change.

I did a bit of research and spoke to many people trying to find out more about you. The folks that used to work with you in the Smokejumpers and elsewhere were astonished by your remarks. They would like to know when you became so detached from the folks in Fire. When did you stop being a Firefighter and became a politician. YOU were the person that helped bring our SCBA program to the Angeles. YOU were the person that helped bring our EMS system into place. And now YOU are the one saying that we need to stop performing those activities. We need to go back to being "Land Managers"? What do YOU suppose would happen when a Media helicopter hovering over a major incident within our Forest, recording a picture of people bleeding to death while Forest Service "Land Managers" were only holding stop signs while waiting for a municipal engine to show up with an expected ETA of one hour? How do YOU think the public would react? YOU said that we should not be compared to OUR, not yours anymore after that speech, Brothers and Sisters in municipal departments. To a certain extent, most of us would agree. However, to say that we should not get involved with anything other than managing the lands is a dis-service to the public that has entrusted us with so much, the lands and, in some cases, their lives.
I wonder if you would be willing to go to any one of the families that have lost a loved one fighting fire for this Agency and tell them YOUR speech. How dare you sir, disrespect the memories of those men and women by saying that they are not Firefighters!! The Agency is very quick to call us Firefighters when the world is watching, but as soon as they turn off the television, you stop giving us the respect we have deserved.

You said that we report to Line Officers. That is true. We understand that. You said those Line Officers have to sometimes make the unpopular dcision. Again, we understand that. You also said that the Forest Service cannot be run by a vote of it's employees. You are right. BUT, we do work for the Government. Last time I checked, the government works for the taxpayers. It seems that the only way to bring some of our issues to light is to bring it to our elected officials. That is how the system works in the United States of America. You also said that you will not let this Agency become a bunch of "whiners and complainers". From my perception of your speech, I don't think that we are the ones whining. You may want to take a look in the mirror. Let me give you one example: The Veteran's Administration has used the same system and facilities for the last 40 years with regards to taking care of our wounded troops. The public heard some of the horror stories of wounded vets and went to their elected officials to update the system and facilities. Guess what?! The systems and facilities changed. Were those vets whiners and complainers?

And then of course there is the pay issue. I am not going to discuss that. I think that has been talked about enough and you know what must be done. Although, when was the last time you got laid off for six months? When was the last time you had to scrounge for change to buy gas so you could 100 miles to work because you can't afford to live closer to your station? Ask yourself that as your work Monday through Friday, 8 to 5, in your office making as much as you do.

I would like to challenge you to go to the Forests and make that same speech to an audience that is not basically held captive and see how many of MY Brothers and Sisters stand up and walk away from you.

Remember where you came from sir!? You WERE one of US for a long time. I, and many, many others USED to have alot of respect for you. You have lost that respect.

Now I challenge you to respond.

Robert Ethridge
Senior Firefighter (Forestry Technician)
President, NFFE Local 1650
Angeles National Forest
2/22 Hi Ab!

I was looking at the team rosters, and FYI, Joe Ferguson is no longer the IC of the
Atlanta NIMO team. I just round out he retired at the end of Dec., surprised me
since I had just taken S420 with him, he is a great guy. Anyway, they currently do
not have an IC named.

Thanks, take care,

Information Diva

2/21 It is with great sorrow and sadness that I send notification of the passing of Fire Captain Vance Tomaselli of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Additional information will follow as released by the family.

Thank you all for keeping the Tomaselli family in your prayers.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
San Bernardino National Forest
2/21 Ab

In my humble opinion merging the management of R6 and R10 makes about as much sense as sending 10 Type 1 strike teams to a fire on top of Mt. Shasta.

What do the regions have in common?
1. Forests; not similar forests, just forests
2. The states in those regions have seacoast
3. They both have smokejumper programs; just jumper planes cannot get from one region to the other rapidly.
4. BLM does have a significant presence in both of the FS Regions.
5. Firefighting Tactics are totally different (oh I thought I was saying things in common)
6. Fire season is similar months of the year. (Sort of)
7. They are really close enough that a FMO could drive from the farthest reaches of one to another in less than a day. (oops!)
8. R10 has special rules and requirements for personal equipment for crews responding. (oops!)
9. Both regions have mountains.
10. R10 can and, sometimes it is worthwhile to "Let it burn", while R6 has much more WUI to be tended to.

No sense to me.

ht

2/21 smokeater said: "Why don't we send Congress and the Senate a vote of no
confidence for the R5 overhead as well as Mr. Rey."

smokeater: You will certainly have that opportunity next Nov 7, as will we
all.

If you don't choose to vote with your feet, and advocate true change, the
uphill battle we've been fighting will indeed become near-vertical.

Regards,

Hugh Carson
2/21 All,

Why don't we send Congress and the Senate a vote of "no confidence"
for the R5 overhead as well as Mr. Rey..

smokeater

2/21 FEMA INCIDENT REPORT

FEMA_R09_Oakland_CA20080221_0630PST_Earthquake_NV_02

INCIDENT: 6.3M Earthquake, Eastern Nevada, 2/21/08, 0916 EST

DESCRIPTION: At 0916 EST, February 21, 2008 the U.S. Geological Survey
recorded a 6.3-magnitude earthquake centered 41.0N 114.7W or 11 miles ESE
of Wells, Nevada near the Utah border. The earthquake’s depth was 6.2
miles.

There is preliminary information from the State of Nevada through FEMA
Region IX indicating structural damage in Wells, NV in the form of 3
collapsed buildings. There is no knowledge of any trapped individuals.
There are no reports of injuries.

STATE/LOCAL RESPONSE: Currently there is a report of the two collapsed
buildings on fire and local fire teams are responding. There are reports of
damage to propane and water lines and local authorities are beginning to
assess these reports. NV DOT is checking freeways and overpasses for
damage. The NV NG and the US&R team in Las Vegas are on standby.

POTENTIAL FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT: Unknown at this time.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: State of NV Office of Emergency Management.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Region IX Duty Officer, 510-627-7732. After
hours contact Bothell MERS Operations Center (MOC), 800-395-6042.
2/21 Dear AB:

Over the course of the last year we have been tremendously humbled to see our membership increase substantially despite many of R5's finest heading to what they believe may be greener pastures. We have been honored to have a significant number of firefighters from all grades join the FWFSA while during this same time realizing a less than expected loss of members to the "exodus."

That being said, with this latest round of hiring from Cal-Fire, I hope you will permit us to ask here on TheySaid that if any FWFSA has accepted a position with Cal-Fire or some other agency, please do us the courtesy of letting us know either through the contact sheet on our web site, an email directly to me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or by phone at 208-775-4577.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/21 I read the article about the pilot's widow losing the chance to have the Supreme Court hear her case with great interest. One sentence jumped out at me big time - Wells-Groff also was denied payments by her private life insurance carriers because her husband was flying a plane when he died, a contract condition she learned of only after his death.

When I talk to folks about benefits, this is one of my big points that I try to get across to helitack folks. You have to be very careful when getting private life insurance. When John and I went looking, we made sure to let them know that he was part of a flight crew. A couple of them told us that would exclude me from receiving anything if he should die while in a helicopter and working. We finally found one that had nothing written in the clauses about flight crews and I had no problems with the claim later.

So for all you folks that are helitack, tanker pilots, etc or if you know someone who is, make sure they are aware of this fact. If you have purchased private life insurance and aren't sure, check the fine print in your policy. Hopefully we won't hear of this happening again.

Lori
2/21 Looks like the BDF took a big when CAL FIRE offered its captain jobs.

2 on the mountain top
2 on the San Jac
2 that used to work for the BDF

This is confirmed,

Hopefully the FS can resolve those retention problems they have....... or do they?

signed

Only the beginning

2/21 Message from Jim Tomaselli, sent in by former BDF firefighter:

My dad is still critical and non-responsive. Wish I had better news.
Thanks for the thought and prayers.

Our great condolences to you and your family, Jim. Ab.

2/20 Had the pleasure of working along side Capt. Tomaselli on the Butler 2 fire.
He was a riot! So much experience, so easy going and a great all around guy.
Our hearts are with Jim and his family during this difficult time.

ES

2/20 Looks like the MNF lost two captains to CALFIRE, that makes 3 captains,
1 Supt. and 1 Division in 2 years. Still no retention problem.....

signed Fed' Up in R-5
2/20 hey no name #3,

I have a friend who is an engineer on the south zone who ranked on band 2
who works for cal fire and he hasn't said anything about being offered a
promotion (yet). Also, A captain from the green team that I know hasn't
been offered anything either.

squirrel

2/20 To the Tomasellies:

Our hearts and prayers are with you Jim and your Dad . You have done so much for the fire community . It is our time to be there for your family. I would hope to see that all that you have helped will be there. I have had the experience to meet your dad. He was a guy that you could talk to till the sun went down and beyond. I have not heard any news since the crash. I would hope that updates could be posted on this site.

signed Former BDF Firefighter

2/20 Noname 2:

I believe the open captain's list that contains 302 candidates includes
the 182 promotional candidates, equalling 120 open candidates. Rumor
is pretty much everyone on the lists was offered a job.

Another Noname
2/20 Hey noname1,

Make that 2........ But remember it will be under a unified command
when we fight fire together again.

Going RED!!!!!
2/20 1 more BAT Chief gone to Cal Fire from a North Zone Forest !!!!!!!!

de

2/20 Everyone keeps wondering about CalFire's captains list. There are 182
departmental promotional candidates, and 302 open list candidates.
The list is available on the California State personnel board website. I
would like to be kept anonymous on my knowing this though.

Thanks!

noname2
2/20 boy, with as bad as things are getting in Fed fire I'm surprised any one is bothering to do it anymore (tongue in cheek). I realize pay is an issue, heck alot of us can't threaten our employer with movement to a higher paying state job. My apartment near Miami cost me $1200.00 and I work for the National Park Service making about the same as many of you in California, maybe less. Did you bother to research the pay scales before you chose this wonderful career? I know its alot of talk, but you know those sunsets really are worth something. helicopter rides, rappelling, calling in a slurry drop, MREs by campfire with friends, it all really is a blessing.

I realize leadership is problematic, it always is, regardless of who you choose to work for. I wish you all luck and I hope you are successful and get paid more, but realize it probably wont be better for anyone not living in California. It's expensive in Denver, Miami, Flagstaff, Boulder, and so many other places, but the only ones that seem to be complaining are those from California. The rest quietly persevere. If you like Cal Fire's program, I hear they're looking. Good Luck! signed rotn

2/20 " Rumor is that all of the BDF Fire and Aviation took the holiday off. Any truth?
Born Green "

The word from "Forestry Technicians" on BDF was Fire was off for the holiday, completely. Which may not be a big issue since chief officers are required to leave their vehicles at the office, ( hopefully their pagers and radios too ! ) can't use red lights and sirens, no all-risk incidents. Kinda makes you wonder what punishment the R-5 leaders (?) have in mind next.

It does not sound like they are to concerned about the fence sitters on the CDF hire list, except maybe for a push-off !!

sideline observer

2/20 Last year I received a letter dated May 11, 2007 (2007- Direction to
Leaders- Federal Fire and Aviation Programs). This direction was developed
by the National Multi-Agency Coordination Group within the National
Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The letter was actually issued
from the Associate Deputy Seceretary of the Interior.

The letter outlined five critical areas where:
"Superior performance is related to successful wildland fire management."
The five areas are listed as:

* Leadership
* Fire and Aviation Operations
* Safety
* Cost Containment
* Current Policy issues

Under the Leadership title the letter states, "The most essential element
for success in the wildland fire organization is competent leadership. The
fire and all-hazard response environment is complex, dynamic,
unpredictable, and often dangerous." The letter also says the following:

"THE PRIMARY MISSION OF THE AGENCY FIRE PROGRAMS IS PREPAREDNESS FOR AND
RESPONSE TO WILDLAND FIRES."

The letter goes on to state, "Regardless of incident type, agency
administrators, fire program managers, firefighters and other leaders make
a commitment to protect life, property, and natural resources in our
communities, states, and nation. Their decisions may profoundly affect
citizens, communities, and natural resources. Agency administrators and
fire program leaders are expected to use their knowledge, skills, and
abilities to make sound and timely decisions, and to take decisive and
effective actions."

"Current trends related to wildland fire management are leading to "Perfect
Storm" conditions. Agency administrators, fire program leaders,
firefighters and other leaders must be prepared for the challenges that
will be faced."

Under fire and aviation operations the letter states:

"In many cases, aggressive initial attack is the single most important
method to ensure the safety of firefighters and the public, and to limit
suppression costs. Planning, organizing and implementing appropriate fire
operations must always be focused on directly and economically achieveing a
defined objective. In other wildland fire operations such as prescribed
fires, wildland fire use, and fuels management, the goal continues to be
accomplishment of established management objectives in a safe, effective,
and efficient manner. Regardless of the management objective, leaders must
ensure that in all fire operations decisions are timely, action is
decisive, and an aggressive approach to mission accomplishment is
maintained."

Under Safety the letter states:

"The primary means we achieve safety is through risk management. Risk
management is a process for measuring and assessing risk and developing
strategies to manage it. This helps leaders make sound organizational and
operational safety decisions in a logical manner. Fire leaders at all
levels should develop and cultivate high reliability organizations-
organizations that operate under very trying conditions yet achieve
extremely low error rates. In high reliability organizations, leaders place
a high priority on safety and reliability. Significant levels of redundancy
exists which permit back-up capability to compensate for failure. Fire
program leaders must seek CONTINUED AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT IN ALL AREAS OF
ORGANIZATIONAL SAFETY, both for themselves and their subordinates."

The above direction shows us just how important our job in wildland fire
management is. You know, this is basic stuff that every on the ground
firefighter knows and strives for. But for this to succeed the upper level
agency management must put leaders in place who embrace and support this
direction. We have to have leaders in the upper levels of fire management
with a tremendous amount of operational on the ground fire experience and
DEMONSTRATED FIRE ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP ABILITY. It is my own personal
opinion that the agency is lacking in this area and that is why fire
management is experiencing severe problems. The agency and the upper level
fire program leadership MUST support the on the ground firefighter and the
on the ground fire management organizations.

Battle on Friends,
KJoseph
2/20 Pretty interesting comments...and I like 'em!

When I was a younger lad and figuring out what I wanted to be in life, I always wanted to be a firefighter and at the time the USFS was the "Parent Company" here in California. That is they were the professionals and they had better pay. They were cleaned up and they had uniforms that looked sharp. I wanted to work for them and I started to. One day a senior management person came by the fire station and was talking careers with us. I remember it like it was yesterday: He said to me that I would never become a "professional series" employee in the USFS without a "forestry degree." I had always intended to go to school, but not necessarily for forestry and so that was it for me. I made my mind up and he basically ran me off with his narrow view of an archaic approach to wildfires. It was the "class of '47" attitude restated. Basically, if you didn't go to UC Berkley, you were unable to have any cognitive thought, much less manage an agency like the Forest Service! See ya.

As time wore on, I could see things start to change and CDF increase its pay and benefits. It did not happen over night. In many respects it took years! Through the effort of the union, the working conditions began to improve. I went from sleeping on rocks and wet lawns to a warms bed and a place to get a shower. It made me a better prepared employee for me employer the next day. New firefighters today have no idea what that world looked like before. The point is, pay was negotiated away for some of the "working condition improvements."

You are right on with the failure of the parent company to evolve and adapt to the changing demands of the public. I don't know how many times I have heard someone not from the fire service say, "I didn't know you guys did wrecks or structure fires," or "I don't care what COLOR the engine is if I'm laying in the road!" There is an expectation that a public emergency response agency will respond to any call for help. It is the morally correct thing to do. The bureaucratic bamboozling excuse of its not out mission won't fly any longer especially in a post 9/11 era. You just can't stand on that platform.

Back in the late 1990's. CDF began loosing many new employees because pay had lagged. Many would finish a 10 week fire academy and never see the first shift. Some local government fire departments were shrewd enough to even tell these people that they would wait for them to finish the CDF training and then hire them! CDF finally woke up and smelled the coffee. After 20 years of being the only firefighters being not compensated for the overtime they earned at 1.5 pay, it was finally fixed in 2001 but it would take the next five years to accomplish. There have been NO adjustments to the CDF base pay since long before that. CDF pay might look pretty good, and it is, but it is nothing more that what everyone else makes in overtime.

The department is short staffed and has relied on overtime to fulfill its mission. This is why the hours are long and the overtime checks are large.

Apprentice you need to remember what you have said here and do something with it when you get into a position to be able to do it. You probably won't last with the USFS though and will migrate to an agency that will value what you stated as the obvious. The USFS has lost a lot of mid-level employees to CDF. I will tell you the effort to recruit and target these people is intentional. CDF recognizes the experience and also the coincidental "changing faces" in our organization with the retirements.

I re-read Harbour's comments and he makes some good points, but I must tell you after reading yours, I give you the nod and he should really reconsider what your trying to advance here. His world is long gone. There are no more guard stations in the back country, the horses and saddles have long been put up, and gas is not 10 cents a gallon any more. We don't drive 1932 model A Fords on railroad tracks.

You work for a full service fire agency-whether they recognize it or not.

Keep pushing.

"Another CDF BC"
2/20 Apprentice 39-41,

I read your post and was moved. Your passion, your clarity of thought, your ability to speak
to the points was impressive to say the least. I see you are an apprentice but you related your
feelings and thoughts as someone with age and wisdom. I believe I just saw the future of the
fire service…and it is you. Well done! Talk to Casey Judd, I am sure he would enjoy your
participation.

BLMboy
2/20 >From an Apprentice to Mr. Tom Harbour

I was one of the few you addressed during your ‘Quest for Respect’ speech, I’m also one the few from R5 that you addressed in your ‘Quest for Respect’ speech. I’ve read the post from those that partake in this forum, it’s clear how they feel. We’ll Sir now I’d like to address you.

Let ‘me’ share some thoughts about three things which might interest you, (1) mission, (2) pay and (3) ethos.

Let me first discuss our mission. Our mission was created a long time ago in a different world. The resources in which we were placed as steward have changed. The reasons why these resources where to be protected and preserved have gone from an industrial nation’s boom and the timber needed to sustain it, to the present where the original resource has become an American’s home, school, church etc. If you thought our mission has stayed the same since decreed by our father Gifford Pinchot, once again Sir, it hasn’t. In your speech you failed to describe our mission instead choosing to list the problems that have plagued this agency for too long. Many occurring during your tenure. So in the absence of your definition allow me please to give you what I feel mine is. My mission is to provide the people of this country and the very land itself with a competent fire fighter that protects and nurtures the resources of this great country of ours. These ‘resources’ include timberlands, grasslands, waterways, the wilderness and the houses of the tax payers of this county. My mission is to grow in this agency and gain the knowledge to lead and better assist my fellow fire fighter.

Lowly stuff I know, but I will not dodge the pay issue. You vaguely spoke of our ‘mission’ and then as if it could be used as a corollary tried… no you did tell us, using the words ‘never’ and ‘wont’ be paid for the services rendered to the public. You Sir, seem to have forgotten that the price to watch the ‘sun rise and set’ is the blood and sweat from swinging that shovel in your hands hours on end. The back to back fourteen day assignments with little to no contact with your wife or children family or friends. The sixty days at the Academies. All for fourteen bucks an hour.

And then Sir you questioned our desire for wealth, how dare you Sir. Wealth is not a god-dam sun rise or set. You seem to think wealth is being able to afford a home, an apartment, to simply take care of your family. If that is your idea of wealth then YES Sir I’d love to be wealthy. We don’t need a raise to vie with CDF, LACoFD etc.. we need a raise to simply survive. California fire fighters (Sate, County and City) are paid more than fire fighters in the rest the country. Why? Not because they provide ALS or HAZMAT or any other contrived reason you or your office come up with, it’s three words: “COST OF LIVING.” My take home check is about $1,400(base) a month. Average cost for an apartment from the LP to the CNF is $1,000.00, which leaves me with $400.00 to pay for food, gas, car note, insurance, bills, etc. Its simply not enough.

You chose to compare us to LACcFD and Cal. Fire, so I’ll do the same. You Sir said ‘we are not the same’ no Sir we are not, I don’t know a soul that makes this claim. Then Sir, you go on to assert that they have ‘higher training and capabilities’ thus the reason for their pay. Yet you remind us that this pay disparity is not nationwide but in fact the opposite in most of our nation. Let’s face the truth they (LACoFD, CDF) put the fires out, they put in the hose lay’s they put in the hand line, they spike out… we (USFS and BLM) stage or do structure protection. Apparently we live in two different worlds Sir, because when I compare a green engine and a red engine I see two things: one to the hardest job and one to take 2-5 times the pay on the ‘same’ fire.

So let me finish with the two things you said we’re ‘most important’ our ‘ethos and ethics.’ First lets define these word Ethos:[n] the distinguishing character, spirit, or disposition of a person or group. Ethics:[n] 1.a system of moral principles. 2. the branch of philosophy dealing with right and wrong and the morality of motives and ends.

In summation our ethos, Sir are broken. The disposition of this group is of no hope for this agency and zero confidence in your leadership.. Leadership, that lacks ethics and fundamental respect for its people. Leadership, which seems content to keep a chasm between it and its people.

So let’s talk these ethos and ethics, specifically as the Fire and Aviation Chief of the United Sates Forest Service, lets discuss your ethos and ethics. Is it right or wrong to be in California while your subordinates speak to Senator’s about the very subject you tell us you’re trying to fix? What kind of spirit do you project when your office says “…there is no retention problem in Region 5…?” Where is the morality when you use Type I Engines to do a job better suited for Type III? At what cost? At what point do you recognize that you are at the helm of a quagmire? Let’s look at the economics. You pay for the training, then the person leaves for another agency and you pay 2-5x to staff the person on the fire. How is that not a problem? Your people are working the hardest, they’re the most qualified and yet you pay for lesser skilled resources. You allow half of your resources(R5) to be left behind the economic curve and yet you have the audacity to talk about parity. Your system is broken. Will you fix it? Seeing how your office has yet again postponed the Senate hearings, I think its clear you don’t have a plan.

In summation our ethos, Sir are broken. The disposition of this group is of no hope for this agency and zero confidence in your leadership. Leadership, that lacks ethics and fundamental respect for its people. Leadership, which seems content to keep a chasm between it and its people.

The following is a message to you Sir, your Boss and to anyone that still believes in the monetary value of sunsets. It’s time to rethink your effectiveness, it’s time you ask yourself if you are helping or hurting our cause. With all due respect, Sir its time you cashed in on those sunsets. And to all those who aren’t willing to do what it takes, let me be clear: STEP DOWN. Allow the future to forge its path.

And to those who want change step up, the days of complaining in the bay, on the line, and here in “They Said” are over. We clearly can’t rely on the powers that be, unless you plan on retiring with sunsets. I love this country and more importantly I love this job. I think it’s atrocious that those so-called leaders of our agency have gotten away with mismanagement of funds, mismanagement of resources and when Senators ask for an explanation, they simply put they’re heads in the dirt and stall.

So my friend, this may be the start or the end I don’t know, unfortunately our future is linked to you and your office. But find some time to think about your people, think about your legacy and what you’ve left behind. Think about what the real problems are and come up with proper solutions.

Apprentice 39-41

2/19 There are two interesting facts on the Forest Service Chief's website in a report that she commissioned and paid for:

1) Only 30% of the appropriated $$$ for the Forest Service 'make it to the regions and the forests'.

2) Last year, the Forest Service harvested 2.1 Billion board feet of timber (which was similar to the amounts of the 1960's and 1970's). At the height of "exploitation" before the "timber bust" of the early 1980's, the Forest Service topped 10 Billion board feet of harvested timber.

I wonder how much money actually makes it to the Districts who actually perform the mission?

Noname
2/19 Ab,

FYI. Attached Memo that will trickle out over time.

Photo: Model 62 (2007)

Photo: The Future Forest Service Fire Engine (2009)

"Managers will avoid giving the appearance that their wildland fire suppression resources are trained and equipped to perform structure, vehicle, and dump fire suppression, to respond to hazardous materials releases, or to perform emergency medical response" ~ FSM and "Red Book 2008" direction.

What do the LEADERS think?

Lobotomy
2/19 Response to Casey's last post.      

April 1st ?  April fools day ?................

KM

2/19 2/18/08 to the associated press quote form Mr. Mark Rey: "on one hand you hate to lose trained people, on the other hand they're still fighting fire under a unified command system. They're going to be on the line along with the federal firefighters"

This is the third time I have heard this demoralizing, and apparently trendy comment being parroted by one of our "leaders".

Instead of addressing the safety/retention issue as a team and using truthful statistics and whatever tools and political pull we have to deal with this issue, and then instill hope for the future, we are "led" to stick our heads in the sand and become "defeatists" by the ones at the top of our "leadership" ladder. I will have to agree with Mr. Hollingshead about the mischaracterization of our "leaders", first we have to have "leaders" in order to mischaracterize them. As a groundpounder with 30 years on the fireline itself I have been forced in to living in a state of reality, this doesn't seem real to me, but If I were concerned about being a good leader and made such such a statement, I would apologize to the ones who plan to stick it out, or resign in regretful humiliation.

Maybe we should help Mr. Hollingshead work on our "migrating mission statement" whatever that may be, is it like a "burn -by?"
How's this for starters? "Train your firefighters well, so they can get a job with a cooperator that pays more, so us "ignernt" ones who want to stick it our will have some good people to work with on the fireline, well except if we go out of region, Oh yeah if their union allows them off the pavement."

*Big word of the day definition: Di-a-tribe: a forceful verbal attack or criticism. Definition made available to those of us who are to ignorant to join a cooperator who pay more.

*Special mega kudos to Casey Judd, who recognizes temps as real people and employees who should be counted, lets see we still train them, pay them, watch them go to other agencies and they get hurt and die the same as us so why not?

Professionally and sometimes humorously Yours: Reality check

2/19 First day is done for the CAL FIRE Captains Rodeo hiring.
Phone calls are being made at this time. One more day tomorrow
and the list will be exhausted. Lot of folks in Green making the
jump to Blue.

CAL FIRE (Fly on the Wall)

p.s. I was once Green !!!
2/19 Hi Ab,

"Just wanted to know if anyone is aware of the massive problems happening
with ASC right now? All the permanant seasonals that came back on in Jan
and Feb on our Forest are currently "not in pay status" because their
supervisors submitted the paperwork to bring them back on with Empower HR.
Well in January that became obsolete in place of 52 Tracker. However a lot
of us started back before 52 tracker was operational. The supervisors, as
directed in tracker training, submitted the 52's retroactively. However,
ASC just told me today that the retroactive 52's were not assigned to
anyone because...because.... never got a good answer on that, but they are
sitting in 52 tracker unassigned. So, supervisors now have to call ASC to
get at case number for the unassigned 52's so they can get assigned so
people working can be in the system, retroactively.

Luckily, rumor has it that the "not in pay status working people" are
getting paid. Go figure. I'll find out Monday if it is true.

In addition if you are "not in pay status" you cannot access Aglearn to
take your mandatory security trainings by 2/29. If you do not take it by
2/29 you are disabled from the system. But you are not in the system
anyway.

Confused? I am. After multiple phone calls to ASC.

I cannot imagine what the implications of this process are for the flood of
seasonal returns and hiring coming this spring.

Signed,
"Frustrated Fed"
2/19 SENATE HEARINGS POSTPONED

The Senate Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Committee chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has informed the FWFSA that the scheduled hearing set for March 4th to review the Forest Service' retention plan has been postponed until April 1, 2008 due to scheduling conflicts. The FWFSA will be in attendance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/18 San Bernardino fire captain in critical condition after stroke

www.pe.com/localnews

10:00 PM PST on Monday, February 18, 2008

By RICHARD BROOKS
The Press-Enterprise

Capt. Vance Tomaselli remained unconscious and in critical condition Monday after suffering a stroke while driving a fire engine to a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains.

"I have a feeling he knew what was going on," said Thom Wellman, San Bernardino County Fire Department division chief.

"He was trying to tell (radio dispatchers) that he knew something was going wrong with him, and he was trying to get off the road when he sideswiped a tree."

At noon Saturday, the 60-year-old Angelus Oaks resident and a trainee were headed to a blaze that destroyed a caretaker's cabin at Camp Edwards in Angelus Oaks.

If Tomaselli had lost control of the engine, the rig likely would have plunged down a mountainside, Wellman said. That could have killed both occupants.

"We're talking 600 feet -- a long ways," Wellman said.

Instead, Tomaselli negotiated the turn from Jenks Lake Road onto Camp Edwards Road, where other firefighters came to his aid and summoned a medical helicopter.

By many accounts, Tomaselli is an independent soul.

"Ornery, strong-willed, stubborn," Wellman said. "But a man with probably as big a heart as any man I've ever met in my life -- a man who has always put the community before himself.

"When people get in trouble, they call the fire department. In Angelus Oaks, when they get in trouble, they call Vance."

Tomaselli, who joined the Fire Department 27 years ago, underwent surgery Saturday, said Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.

"We're just all praying and waiting," she said Monday.

In addition to his paid-call work with the Fire Department, Tomaselli had worked at a glass company in San Bernardino. He retired after his wife died a couple of years ago, his colleagues said. But if anything, he increased his hours at the fire station.

"He was their leader," said Capt. Tom McIntosh, of the Forest Falls station, who helped close Highway 38 so the helicopter could land to pick up Tomaselli. "He was the one who always took the extra step to get the job done."

Fire stations with paid-call crews -- the modern version of volunteers -- often are short-staffed on weekdays.

During recent fire seasons, McIntosh and Wellman said, Tomaselli spent many weekdays at his station in case fires broke out.

"He's a fixture there," McIntosh said.

Fair Use Disclaimer

2/18 Hi to all:

The FWFSA has been asked to craft commentary & questions for a Senate hearing before the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment & Related Agencies scheduled for March 4th. The hearing is to, among other things, discuss the as yet unseen and belated retention plan.

The commentary & questions will be posted in our Member's area on our web site hopefully by mid-week. Also to be posted is our response to Chief Kimbell on her letter (6 months in the making) to Congress about fire issues in Southern California.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/18 Does any one have any knowledge of the status of Type I and II Incident Management Teams responding to All Risk incidents in regards to the review of the "Mission Statement"? Curious after Mr. Harbour's speech at the Apprentice Academy and Randy Moore's comments. You people at the RO and WO I know you read this site. Anyone with good knowledge and writing skills should contact 60 Minutes or 20/20 to let the public know that the Agency is lying and trying to kick us back to the stone age. They have web sites and are always looking for a good story around election time. Come on folks, the citizens expect and deserve a professional firefighting force. You have one, make it better.

Rumor is that all of the BDF Fire and Aviation took the holiday off. Any truth?

Born Green
2/18 Does anyone know what the status of hiring for ENF is for the 2008 fire season?
especially with the latest rash of retirees.

Apple

2/17 3:44 p.m.: Fire captain has stroke, crashes truck
Michael Sorba
Article Launched: 02/17/2008 03:41:02 PM PST

A 50-year-old captain with the San Bernardino County Fire Department suffered a severe stroke Saturday while responding to a structure fire in the Angelus Oaks area in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The fire was reported at 12:54 p.m. at a caretaker's cabin at Camp Edwards, off Jenks Lake Road, said Tom Barnes, a dispatch supervisor with the department.

The captain and another firefighter from the county's Angelus Oaks Station 15 were dispatched to the fire, said Tracey Martinez, the department's spokeswoman.

The captain suffered the stroke while driving to the fire. As a result of the stroke the captain lost control of his fire engine and crashed into a tree, Martinez said.

Neither firefighter was injured as a result of the crash. The other firefighter radioed for help and the captain was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center.

The captain arrived at Loma Linda at 2:29 p.m. and later underwent emergency surgery, Martinez said. As of Saturday night the captain was listed as being in critical but stable condition, Martinez said.

The department did not release the captain's name today.

Officials with the department were not aware he suffered from health problems in the past, Martinez said.

The fire burned the cabin to the ground, Martinez said. Another county engine and an engine from the Forest Service responded to the fire but were unable to save the structure, Martinez said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
2/17 Link for info on Jenks Lake CA: Wildfire Truck Accident

www.sbsun.com/breakingnews/ci_8290283

dispatch log of the incident. This may be helpful for SoCal CalFire.

www4.rimoftheworld.net/incident/4530

Thank you,

Stephen

2/17 Ab

Thermo Gel is apparently alive and well. Website is up and running.
Woodsman25 may have typed it wrong; it worked at 1510 PST today 2/17/08.
www.thermo-gel.com/

I have followed the new foams with great interest, just a learning experience.

ht
2/17 Hi Folks,

I've been putting in some research time, investigating alternatives to currently used aerial long-time fire retardants. There are several water enhancers available and most of the companies have been more than happy to help. One company, Thermogel Technologies, has been high profile with good press in recent years, has not returned inquiries. Now their websites are down. My question; does anyone know what this company's status is? Are they still in business? I have heard rumors that they may have closed their doors because the product was unable to meet environmental hurdles- this may well be untrue, I just can't seem to get any answers. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks for the help and enjoy your winter down-time,

Woodsman25

2/17 Thanks for your help Mellie and JerseyBoy. Great links Mellie. I have been
using the Yerkes-Dodson principal for some time in my work. It is always
great to keep sniffing out new positions and ideas from all disciplines or lines
of work and examine them to see how they relate to each other.

Bruce E (AKA PSUForest)
2/16 Good evening all,

Hope you're having a pretty fine weekend. I am.

Ab.

2/16 Kimbell wrote: "...the region is staffed at 90 percent of our full fire suppression capacity."

I'm not sure where Chief Kimbell is getting her numbers, but that's not what I'm seeing at the ground-level. Even with the current USFS practice of filling open positions with under-qualified individuals (which is a whole other problem), it is clear to me that this number is bogus. From what I saw during my assignment travels last season, there's a whole lot of 5-day-effective engines and completely unstaffed engines due to lack of qualified supervisors.

On my district in Northern California, our handcrew has, for several years, been unsuccessful in finding a superintendent. Also, for this next season, there's a real possibility that, out of 4 engines, only 1 will be staffed 5 days a week (while the other 3 collect dust in the parking lot -- we'd put them in engine bays, but our compound is grossly inadequate, which is, again, a whole other problem).

Losing hope...
2/16 Response to Chief Kimbell's letter:

Wow...thanks so much for your letter with absolutely no new information. Again. And thanks for giving us another missed deadline with no new information. And thanks for giving us another month to stand by and watch the carrot dangle in front of us. Maybe we are all doing what they want us to do. Keep on doing what we do while they give us a bunch of empty promises. Blah...I know this has all been said and said before, but after Mark Rey's comments about losing firefighters being okay because they just come back under Unified Command at 5 times more expensive makes my blood boil.

Anonymous

2/15 AB:

Attached is the response, six months in the making I might add, from Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell to 6 Southern California congressional representatives who sent a letter to her and ANF Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron in August voicing concerns over federal wildland firefighter issues.

When the Agency speaks of attrition rates, as part of the Administration, as is OPM, all fail to take into consideration the loss of temporary firefighters and other "real" numbers so the 90% staffing rate for R5 the Chief quotes is questionable at best.

I will be meeting with Rep. Sherman's staff as well as that of Rep. Schiff and others in a few weeks in DC and we will ensure questions posed to the Chief at the March 4th Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee will address this letter and the fact it took six months to produce.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

ccu-rep-sherman-angeles-fire-pay-signed.pdf (772K pdf file)

2/15 CAL FIRE -FIRE CAPTAIN Hiring.

Next week the 19th and 20th of February CAL FIRE is going to Do their “BIG” Hire. 138 total on the list with close to 200 open Fire Captain jobs throughout the state. The list will be exhausted in 1day. So look for the flyer for the new Captains Exam in the near Future. The FAE and the FFII hiring will be in the next month.

CAL FIRE (Fly on the Wall).
2/15 To Bruce E:

A couple things about your last post with the link to the chart on Adrenaline and Stress Reactions:

First, the original chart and research behind it comes from Bruce K. Siddle in his 1995 book "Sharpening the Warriors Edge: The Psychology and Science of Training." As you can probably tell, Siddle's research deals mostly with military and combat operations, although he deals with things such as auto accidents and crimes too.

Second, it's not the HR that is affecting psychomotor functions, it's the release of chemicals, called "stress hormones" into the bloodstream - norepinephine, cortisol, and others that we don't know much about - that affect psychomotor function. Marathon runners, cyclists, etc., routinely get their HR around 190 b.p.m. during competition and are able to carry on conversations, and think tactically. Heart rate can be a marker of things, or it can be completely unrelated.

JerseyBoy
2/15 Bruce,

Under high stress conditions such as fear, the entire Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is activated, producing a “fight or flight” response: this is an immediate, widespread physiological arousal response. The fear-related stress hormone -- epinephrine (commonly called adrenalin) -- causes physical, cognitive, behavioral, performance and heart rate changes. After the danger passes, nor-epinephrine returns the body to a balance, but because the body has had such a profound change in response to the adrenalin, a backlash often follows.

Many of you probably know this parasympathetic crash. You've probably felt it following prolonged stress arousal during an intense fire season. The parasympathetic system symptoms include profound exhaustion, even nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and depressed heart rate and blood pressure. Nerd on the Fireline once wrote about this on Familysaid- about grumpy firefighters after the season is over. She had a good graphic too... (Safety Expert Dr. Gordon Graham -- the "Predictable is Preventable" guy -- spoke on this topic several years ago at the R5 Chiefs meeting.)

The numbers on the table are ballpark heart rate numbers related to the SNS stress response. There are potentially large individual differences in heart rate relating to physiological arousal and other cognitive, physical, performance and behavioral responses to the stress hormone. Let me be clear, I'm not talking about increased heart rate due to exercise. That's different. Lots of athletes perform optimally when their heart rates are elevated; with conditioning and practice they can perform well physically and cognitively and their stress hormones may not be greatly elevated. However, if they become stressed (fear or performance fear, demands exceed their ability to cope, etc.) their heart rate increases and their performance falls off. The inverted u-shaped arousal :: performance curve was described by Yerkes and Dodson in a very old publication in the early 1900s, if I recall correctly. (OK, here's a description: Yerkes-Dodson Law.)

Also note that people can have high heart rate unrelated to SNS stress. Older people often have higher resting heart rates and may be more reactive to stress and slower to recover than younger people who are better conditioned.

The topic of stress and fight/flight grabbed my attention in a deep way in about 1990 in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University/ U Pittsburgh post doc program on stress. A bunch of us with different areas of interest (some were involved in cardiovascular stress research at Pitt, dang, can't remember the name of great stress and cardio researcher) were brainstorming correlations between fear-induced stress, different kinds of functioning -- both macro and micro -- and heart rate. A bit later I read a lot of Bob Sapolski's work (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers; Stanford University) and Bruce McEwen (The Hostage Brain; Rockefeller University) who looked at the effects of hormones on brain function/fight or flight/ and also the HPA stress axis. They were part of a MacArthur Foundation Working Group on Stress and Health that I had the good fortune to interact with.

The military ended up being where the rubber hit the road for this kind of research, because they had lots of [willing?? (grin)] subjects and could see some real benefits to studying the psychology of combat [like staying alive and surviving re-entry into the non-war world]. That's where some of the cutoff numbers coalesced: with Dr. Dave Grossman's and Dr. Bruce Siddle's research with the military in the mid-90s. Siddle wrote Sharpening the Warrior's Edge. Some really good books by Lt Col Grossman are On Killing and On Combat, the Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace (this last book with Loren Christensen). (On Killing was nominated for a Pulitzer. Grossman did a lot of lecturing to Police and Military, taught at West point; I think his lecture I heard, the Bulletproof Mind, turned into On Combat. He's a very fine lecturer, dynamic like Gordon Graham.) It's fascinating stuff, Dave lays out a stress related psychomotor physiological aspect of "human factors" that influences decision making and performance.

(Whenever soldiers, police or firefighters are criminally charged, I always pray for a person like Dave Grossman to take their side and put their actions into perspective. It's not black and white. People simply do not know how altered human function, physiology, cognitive performance, reasoning etc are when adrenalin kicks in.)

Bruce, I don't know if Siddle was first to publish or if Grossman was. They may have done the research together. I don't know which journals their original work is published in, maybe it was only available to the military, but their work is important and profound. Good luck with sorting out the table. I wrote it as kind of an off the cuff response to some question on theysaid. Maybe read On Combat first.

Wow, look what I just found: Grossman has a website: Killology Research Group His publications are listed there.

Mellie

2/15 Abs,

A while ago, (prob a few years) a posting was on your site relating to how heart beats per minute are correlated with psychomotor functions. I believe this was sent in by Mellie, in relation to one of the human factors workshops. I would love to use this in a presentation and magazine article that I am doing. I have the image, and attached it to maybe spark a memory. What I am hoping for is: permission to use this chart, and hopefully for you to forward my info to the author so I may obtain his or her permission, and hopefully their references. I have spent some time researching this, but have not been able to find anything so concise and detailed. Please let me know if this is possible.

Thanks

Bruce E
The Pennsylvania State University

2/15 There's a new post up on familysaid if there are family members out there who want to chat. Ab.
2/15 For those of you needing and wanting to see another presentation/talk given
by Pincha-Tully on the Castle Rock Fire in Idaho, she'll be back to the area
to do just that!

www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005119408

SB

It's mentioned here on the Castle Rock hotlist thread, too.

2/15


~~ THE~USFS~SAID~THIS~WAS~SUPPOSED~TO~BE~THEIR~NEW~DAY ~~

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=RETENTION=--=DAY=--=RETENTION=--=STRATEGY=-
!!-=RETENTION=--=MESSAGE=--=DEADLINE=--=TO=--=CONGRESS=-!!
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

2/14 Ab,

The 2007 SoCAL Fires Lessons Learned report was just released:

http://www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/2007_SO_Cal_ICT_FINAL_REPORT.pdf

Fire Geek

I imagine this will be good reading. Heard they interviewed 103 firefighters in a number of positions and from a number of agencies. Ab.

2/14 Slight clarification on BigBlue's response to Lobotomy on 2/12...

WA DNR seasonal "Natural Resource Workers 2" are only eligible for state retirement if they are either 'career seasonal' or are in an appointment expected to last 6 or more months. They would then be eligible for retirement, medical/dental/vision benefits, accrue Annual Leave/Vacation, and 1 personal holiday. Most seasonal appointments don't last that long.

sign me,

Herding Cats with Hula Hoops (recently promoted AFMO equivelant)

Congrats. Ab.

2/14 Late response to Driver51’s post on Jan 31 about CISM info. I applaud your interest in helping our fellow ff’s out there. CISM is an important component to keeping people healthy. Generally, people don’t think about it until it is needed.

You might consider becoming qualified as a HR SP for all risk assignments. HR SP’s are becoming more involved in CISM than ever before. As an HR SP, you would be helping people in important but less noticeable ways on every assignment… should something major blow up, an incident within an incident, you would be on the scene. Check out www.fs.fed.us/fire/hrsp/index.phpl for more info on the position. A basic session is planned in Missoula in March. Deadline was Jan 14th to get your name in but if there is a vacancy, you still might be able to attend.

If you want the CISM training by itself just Google it and a number of opportunities will turn up. My advice here is to make sure any CISM training you take conforms to the Mitchell Model. Having the training would allow you to be of assistance locally, but being called out to provide that service for a distant need would be less likely. That is why I suggest becoming a HRSP.

Best of luck to you…

Witness Tree
2/14 Here's the most recent info on FS housing on R5. It's from 1998.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/housing-rules-fs98.pdf (172K pdf file)

Here's the OMB document A-11 that's referred to.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/housing-a11-rules-omb97.pdf (103K pdf file)

Housing policy on the LP was changed unexpectedly with some devastating consequences for employees. Policies may not be the same on other forests. Perhaps those on other forests could chime in with their forest's policies. Ask if your forests policies are likely to change if you can get that info. Maybe you could let Ab know what you find?

Anyone from other regions, could you let us know your forest's or region's policies?

Thanks,

Todd

OK, I'll copy/paste or pass the messages. Ab.

2/14 Re EMS:

Its no secret that the FS needs to update its medical protocols. I am An EMT in R5 and have been employed by many other organizations where I had to respond to medical calls. By far the FS is the worst when it comes to training at least on the forest level. It's my understanding that as far as documentation and logging, its basically up to the Module. Speaking from the small amount of experience I have with the FS, this is not good. and possibly a liability.

Just a warning for first responders and EMTs: make sure you document and save a copy because you do not know when you will be called to court for some reason or another, and have to explain your and others' actions. This happened to me (not with the FS); it was not a great experience. Luckily the company I worked for at the time had kept all these reports so I didn’t get on the witness stand and look like a complete Idiot.

With that being said; I believe the public views us as every other fire Organization whether we are in Red, Green, Yellow or Blue. Its not up to what we want anymore, its what the public expects. And they expect us to render assistance on any emergency, especially when we are an hour from the nearest hospital or ambulance.

So that’s why I am more than willing to go to these incidents with a smile to help out the small and sometimes large communities we work in and around.

BE SAFE

DJP

2/14 Re EMS:

After losing a dear friend to many, that we all knew, on our Forest in 1987 due to stupid latent mistakes within our Agency, we (firefighters) chose that the mistakes back then would never happen again. I won't repeat that story again. It is archived on They Said.

It was the basis of why there WAS a medical first responder training program at the NATIONAL Apprenticeship Training Program..

The Forest involved did it right and it spread throughout the Region (slowly) and was adopted as a national standard for entry level apprenticeship training as a wildland firefighter.... That Forest got training, got an EMS provider #, followed the hoops... Met the Standard of Care.

I am disgusted by the Forest Service's current medical director being a dentist..... go figure.

I taught EMS liability for Forest Service employees for years at the Academy and consulted on a regular basis with key attorneys on the subject before I presented them. It's not rocket science.

Re historical info on the Forest Service:

Thanks for providing the two hotlist threads. (hotlist/showthread.php?t=2609; hotlist/showthread.php?t=2608)

I feel that as we look towards the next hundred years of service, folks need to look squarely and objectively at the history of the Forest Service, and especially at the foundation that our fire qualified line officers fostered in the past.

It is important to understand and embrace the concepts and history of the fire program, before it is led towards oblivion by line officers who have never been firefighters or, in many cases, ever stood on a uncontrolled fireline.

I personally am hopeful that our current and future leaders in the Forest, RO, and WO programs will step up and lead the troops forward. Some have been even after retirement, or having to offer up opinions contrary to their "bosses" at great risk to their careers.

I've been a little confused though when folks speak about leadership. Our managers in the Fire Program are de facto leaders. They can be either good leaders or bad leaders.

The good leaders embrace the facts, the culture, and the "family" of the past..... and look forward at an ever evolving sub-mission within the Forest Service known as Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management.

I've never wanted to follow bad leaders or bad leadership.

The 1956 Report to the Chief was one of the first times the Fire Program stood up and was recognized for some very unique problems that were surfacing.

Lobotomy

2/14 Ab,

I am not sure where Hotshot75 got those links about salaries, But looking at my area, they are a bit off and should be higher. Most likely because of contracts, cola's etc. This could likely be the same for most municipals. I am sure you guys knew this, though.

As far as what PB is saying yes and no. In most states and counties, including C., a few things must happen. In Ca. (R-5), EMTs are covered under Title 22. Such things covered are duty to act, scope of practice, negligence, etc. Just like code three driving, the wheel is already pretty round, why reinvent it......... Your discretion to print this one, just trying to creatively expound...

Former green soldier

2/14 In response to Hundekot et. all

I was not in any way putting criticism on the FS, and I thought I had made that clear. I was just saying it would be nice if FS stations were allowed to be all incident (as they are actually). Good Samaritan laws should cover them if they respond in the capacity of "passer by". Not saying they should be 24/7 365 for it either.

I know full well that CNF (and likely many other forests) engines are dispatched to accidents and other medicals on the forests. Always some other department(s) responds with a ambulance and most often at least one engine; as FS is not a medical response resource. However, if the case I presented was more serious the FS crew could have provided some form of medical care, better than the average passer-by; until the medical units were there.

I was just pointing out the reality of the FS not being 24/7 365 staffed. Heck; on the Cedar fire the crew of one of the closest engines to the origin was not called out till about 0130. That, in a small way, was a good thing the Capt. got to the station to discover that the fire was at the station. He got out the torches and, "when the hair on the back of my head said it was time" backfired to save his station and a local station that they share land with.

Remember we are not just talking R5 here, we are talking all over the country. We pay (a lot more) in federal taxes too.

Somehow the NPS has it figured out. They run all kinds of incidents. They have firefighters, and they have people in all departments trained and certified for all emergency positions. They have ambulances, structural brigades, wildland IA; they are on IMTs. Not saying the FS should go that far with ambulances and structural brigades but at least recognize what the FS FFs really do.

Oh excuse me the FS does not have FFs; they are "ology technicians" that might be the reason.

BUT why do the brass keep calling them FFs?

ht
2/13 Ab,

This former-Krassel-rappeller-current-EMT-I-and-law-student is thinking: "I hope my brothers and sisters in green are *very, very, very* careful about where they get their advice on liability for medical malpractice while rendering care to civilians "on the clock."

Now that cautionary word DEFINITELY includes anything I have to say, (and if you ignore this you are in good company, since I never seem to listen to me either!) but last I tried to look into it, I got no farther than realizing the FS's policies and practices of providing EMT care to civilians absent medical control are a lawsuit just waiting to file itself . . . . it's hard to imagine that situation has changed.

Now, I am not a doctor or a lawyer (yet), but "I'm just saying," is all I'm saying . . .

PB
2/13 Notes from House Committee on Appropriations, Hearing on Wildland Fire Oversight on 2/12/08
See attached: house-hearing-summary-wlf-oversight 021208.doc (43 K doc file)

Secret Squirrel

Preview:

Top Issues in Hearing:

  1. Fire costs are escalating at the detriment of other programs and FS work
  2. Suppression budget – 10-year average
  3. Preparedness – explain $77 million decrease
  4. Haz Fuel funding decrease
  5. State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance decline
  6. DOI/FS merge into “Fire Service”
  7. Funding alternatives – Partition; FEMA funding
  8. Agreements with State and Local governments – state feels that we are just trying to pass costs. Fed lands not managed and fires running off to private lands
  9. Incentives to enact “Firewise” building codes in the WUI
  10. Haz fuels treatments in priority areas – collaborative approaches are creating positive change
  11. CA firefighter pay
  12. Military aircraft – MAFFS in So. CA (click the link for the rest)
2/13 Hundekot,

Just curious... What about the tragic accident near a CNF Fire Station a litlle while back of personnel that were on their way home from work. The engine that went over the side in Nor Cal a few years ago? Or the BDF heli-tac crew truck that went over the side last Fall? Sorry, maybe that stuff was fantasy... The Forest Service First Responder program was started to take care of our own, (I was an original instructor) and the public if needed. Or do we call 911, if there is phone service, than bury our heads in the sand and say good luck...

Hotshot75, no worries...... Talked to a friend (one of the three lol...) who said at a recent hiring test for a contract county, their were several hotshot, engine, smokejumper, and BLM, (and yes CDF also) shirts visible of applicants. You wont have too many people moving out yonder because in this sad state of affairs for R-5 Fire, eventually their won't be anybody left. I made a life decision also. But I wanted to stay close to year-round firefighting, AND most importantly my family and friends I grew up with...

When the government finally decides to justly recognize and compensate federal wildland firefighters a lot of this will be a thing of the past.

Former Green Soldier

2/13 Ab and all,

I did a quick hour's work on the web searching "wages in California" here is what I got
straight from that state's website on wages, and OPM.gov.

www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/cgi/career/?PageID=3&SubID=152 - 137k -

www.opm.gov/oca/07tables/

I used the wage tables for San Bernardino county for both searches.

The OPM # are for '07 and the California #s are he latest available 1st quarter 2007.

For all occupations in the SanBerdo/Riverside areas the median wage is $14.74/hour or $30,659/yr.
this equates to a GS-4 step 2 at $31,305/yr or $15.05/hr.

For Firefighters the median wage is $21.39/hour or $44,491/yr or a GS-6 step 8 who earns $21.58/hr
or $44,892/yr.

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Firefighting and Prevention workers (sounds like a BC or ADFMO
to me). Median wage is $30.01/hr or $62,420/yr. or a GS-9 step 10 who makes $62,354/yr or $29.97/hr.

The upper levels of all these categories (the 75th percentile) are:

All occupations $23.31/hr or $48,484/yr, a GS-7 step 7 makes $48,794/yr or $23.45/hr (Engineer?)

Firefighters $29.20/hr or $60,736/yr, a GS9 step 9 makes $61,027/yr or $33.18/hr (Hotshot Supt?)

Fire Supervisors/Managers $38.31 or 79,684/yr, a GS 12 step 7 makes $80,797/yr or $38.84/hr (FFMO)?

I want to see everyone make as much money as possible and have a good life, but it does not appear
the the GS wages are as far off the mark as you might think. I am attaching the California tables
in case anyone wants to see them pretty interesting I thought, especially the Job Description for FFs.

Hotshot75

fed/firepay.doc (160K doc file)

Please Big Earn-ie, save us from a rising convection of wage charts with percentile header. Its own fire weather with collapsing column. I might have to start a hotlist thread for this... Line it, contain it... Ab.

2/13 Ab,

I work in region one of the FS and have been an EMT-B since 1998. I have never been dispatched to an EMT call as a USFS asset but have happened on accidents and rendered assistance. I am associated with the local ambulance service and work under their medical director. When I start to render aid, I am no longer a FS employee, I am a member of the ambulance squad for liability purposes. All of our engines have basic jump kits in addition to the required first aid kits and our AFMO's vehicle has oxygen (He is an EMT also).

My point is that California is a different beast. I am sure that comes as a big surprise to you! If it makes sense to have the USFS respond to EMT calls in a certain area, I hope that our leadership can think outside the box enough to make it happen. If it makes sense to respond at various code levels or wear collar brass, I hope that the leadership would allow that to happen. I don't need any of that stuff in my area, but if Southern California needs it, more power to them.

On a different note, I am in San Diego for a month for some training (Not related to Fire). Any fire related memorial, stations or staff rides I could look at on weekends? I would love to get a look at some of the stations and equipment since I have not had the opportunity to fight a fire down here.

Domaque

2/13 ht -

In reading your post about an emergency medical event last Sunday, I got the drift that you believe that the responsibility to provide emergency medical support to local communities should be in some part borne by the taxpayers of the US who don't live in the local area? In my world, we have lots of USFS and NPS stations that are "closed", either because of the weather, season, or time-of-day. I know that similar situations exist in many of the States across the US. So, do we petition Congress for funding to staff all of the Fed stations 24/7 even when there is not a valid "resource protection need"? Nice idea, but here at home, we taxed the local folks at the County level to pay for a rural fire department and ambulance service. Wanna live here and get services: pay the appropriate tax bill! What were the fire weather conditions on the CNF when the motorcycle accident occurred? Should a wildland fire crew have been "on the ready" in case a damaging wildland fire ignited? Were the CNF natural resources left unprotected? Or was it cold and rainy, with no risk of wildfire?

In a perfect world, the Fed Natural Resource agencies could be all things to all people (and plants, wildlife, etc), but in really it is far from a perfect world: providing those ideal levels of resources costs mega-bucks, and the current Administration has said it's priorities lie else where. Don't blame the USFS folks for living within the budgets they are handed by Bush-Cheney and cohorts.

It's ironic that the example you use was the CNF: isn't it mostly located in the San Diego area, with millions of residents? One of the most wealthy and affluent places in the US, but in a County that has yet to bite the bullet and redeem their responsibilities to their tax-paying citizens (in their very spendy residences) by creating their own county fire protection agency (that might also offer some level of EMS support to accident victims.).

CDF obviously fills a needed and wanted role for the citizens of their State, and the citizens willingly pay for it. Gee, ain't the concepts of States Rights (and responsibilities) from the Constitution wonderful?? Do we need/want another Federal "no accident victim left behind" program too?

Hundekot

2/13 For all those who dont understand CalFire or its mission or what they offer check out the CALFIRE website.

WWW.Fire.ca.gov

wh

2/13 Cal Fire Mossback

There are no greenbook stations. CalFire does not pay the FS to staff any
stations. Used to years ago, but they've balanced protection acres (at
least theoretically) now so no moneys change hands.

TC
2/13 Burn and Nobody......

To file a complaint alleging discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office
of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.
20250-9410, or call Toll free, (866) 632-9992 (Voice). TDD users can
contact USDA through local relay or the Federal relay at (800) 877-8339
(TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (relay voice users).

TC
2/13 Do you think part of the meeting between USFS and Cal Fire will be about the Green Book stations Cal Fire pays for?
Under the Cal Fire employee contract it might pay for Cal Fire to staff some of those stations. The public is demanding that the Fire Service provide " All Risk" response twenty four / seven. I would expect the folks, that live in populated SRA, to demand that service in areas that presently have "Green Book" USFS seasonal stations.
There also might be a surcharge charged on fire insurance policies in California. This will only add to the demand.

Hang in there

Cal Fire Mossback
2/13 Nerd,

The best interface SOP's that I've seen was what Novato FPD proposed after the Cedar Fire in 2003. www.coloradofirecamp.com/cedar_fire/novato_draft_SOPs.php

I think they're worth another look, especially after last couple seasons' point protection strategies that failed to consider a proper mix of risk to benefit.

"No plan to protect a structure should be based on the anticipated need to seek refuge in the engine, structure or in a fire shelter when the flame front passes."

vfd cap'n

2/13 nobody,

I can't remember the number off the top of my head, but there is a number that can be called to anonymously or semi-anonymously report a discrimination in the workplace. It should be posted somewhere in your workplace in plain view. Your Union Rep. will know this number.

Human resources, your Union Representative and knowing Forest Service policy are all your friends when it comes to working in the Forest Service. Please contact your local Union Representative immediately. Do not let this sort of thing slide or the next person through the system will become as disillusioned as you seem to be.

burn

PS- Don't get worked up over the taskbook thing. It isn't a race, it's about being able to do a job well when you are called upon. Don't worry about what other people are qualified as, or what taskbook they just finished. If you feel you are being held up for no reason; honest, upfront communication will usually work out the problem. Be blunt, but respectful and allow them the same.
2/13 Nobody in North R-5,

I think that you bring up some very good points about the apprentice program. First, they cannot just change your duty station like that. I believe that if it is a change and you are a certain distance from your current duty station (think it is 75 miles) they have to give you TOS. Something to research. It could help your pocket out and make them not pull cr*p on you. This is very serious, in my opinion. When I was an apprentice in R6, I had a very good supervisor who would temp detail me places, but would provide transportation or, at least, mileage. Do your homework and remedy the situation.

The task book problem needs to be taken up the chain of command at this point. If you have experience, maybe you should really think about this. If the forest is preventing you from advancing fairly, it needs to be taken to the next level. Also, look at getting out of there. I did it both in fire and from fire. There are other regions that would LOVE your enthusiasm and experience.

For the Batt that used his G ride inappropriately AND ILLEGALLY (misuse of a government vehicle), that needs to be forwarded up to both management and LE&I. I can tell you from my experience that is a HUGE problem. As an officer, it is my job to protect the safety and rights of both the public and employees. There is actually a violation of law in regards to the actions of the Batt Chief towards the employee if that is what happened. Only problem is that the employee may not be willing to cooperate as would be needed. But please, make sure to think about forwarding it on.

Guns n Hoses

2/13 Hey…

A little something for the non-Fed, non-CalFire folks out there, anybody got
some good WUI/rural vollie oriented SOPs, MOPs, or SOGs they’re proud
of and would be willing to share? Vfd Captn? You out there?

Nerd on the Fireline
2/13 Ab,
Based on the recent discussion by our non-FS brothers and sisters about FS units providing medical aid and other traditional fire department duties. Just so it is clear on what FS resources are allowed and not allowed to do based on policy.

From Chapter 9 in the Red Book

Mission

• Forest Service Wide
2. The Forest Service is prepared and organized to support national and international emergencies with trained personnel and other assets when requested.

3. Agency employees respond when they come across situations where human life is immediately at risk or there is a clear emergency, and they are capable of assisting without undue risk to themselves or others.

Emergency Non-Wildland Fire Response-Management Controls to Mitigate Exposure

Managers will avoid giving the appearance that their wildland fire suppression resources are trained and equipped to perform structure, vehicle, and dump fire suppression, to respond to hazardous materials releases, or to perform emergency medical response.

Emergency Non-Wildland Fire Response-Structure, Vehicle, and Landfill Fires

Structure, vehicle, and dump fire suppression is not a functional responsibility of wildland fire suppression resources. These fires have the potential to emit high levels of toxic gases. Firefighters will not be dispatched to structure, vehicle, or dump fires unless there is a significant threat to lands and resources that are under agency protection, including by protection agreement. Firefighters will not take direct suppression action on structure, vehicle, or dump fires. This policy will be reflected in suppression response plans.

FS - FSM-5137.03 - Policy for Structure Fire Suppression. Structure fire suppression, which includes exterior and interior actions on burning structures, is the responsibility of state, tribal, or local fire departments.

FS - Forest Service officials shall avoid giving the appearance that the agency is prepared to serve as a structure fire suppression organization.

Emergency Non-Wildland Fire Response-Emergency Medical Response
24 Medical emergency response is not a functional responsibility of wildland fire suppression resources. Wildland firefighters are not trained and equipped to perform emergency medical response duties, and should not be part of a preplanned response that requires these duties. When wildland firefighters encounter emergency medical response situations, their efforts should be limited to immediate care (e.g. first aid, first responder) actions that they are trained and qualified to perform.

What are our engines supposed to look like?
Can anyone define the leaders intent here?
See any contradictions?
Isn't policy supposed to be clear?

tired of scratching my head here...sting

Appreciate the "facts", Sting. Ab.

2/13 www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0213ednbyfire0213.phpl

Saw this and thought of everyone stuck in the FS etc.

MG

In my opinion, the problem isn't with training, FS firefighter training is awesome; but there are many other issues that many people in the FS are the process of trying to get worked out. Communication is key on those. Still, nice to have options, especially online options. Thanks MG. Ab.

2/13 This is in response to "gone but not forgotten" quite a while ago,

I know you all don't want to hear more apprentice B****ing but here it goes, I have sacrificed my life for the past 4 yrs as a Nor. Cal apprentice, I have been shipped to many different duty stations 75+ miles from my duty station and told it was still my forest so I could shove it in terms of per-diem. I was also told my duty station was changed and once again once the module was disbanded for the winter I worked burning/winterizing my original duty station, how many thousand dollars did i spend driving and not receive mileage or per-diem, a lot!

Next subject, I have seen so many pencil whipped FFT1 taskbooks from the direct orders of a Divs. or Batt. just so a FF could attend a certain class that coming winter while on the other hand my FFT1 book "cannot" be signed because of 3 tasks which include "use of a chainsaw"... I have my A card? And, "mobilization"...I went on a single resource assignment over a year ago.

Abuse of power. I have seen a Batt. use their red lights to pull over an apprentice in their POV on a small town street just to yell at them and tell them to go back where they came from (the apprentice was a minority). Is this the "professionalism" I am told so so much about.

"can do attitude" ...at the apprentice basic academy my class was shown a 9/11 powerpoint 4 times which said "hero/you are" every other page and "they wonder why more people are dying... the young impressionable minds are being agency impressioned by Hero worship, save people no matter what... All Risk?? R5??

I just wanted to write this to not only give other apprentices hope in knowing they aren't the only ones getting royally screw by their forests, but to show that certain units finish the apprentices they want and find ways to drive off or fire apprentice that they feel don't fit the cookie cutter USFS mold.

signed -nobody in North R5-
a.k.a people will be mad about this point of view and they don't need to know where/who I am.

Anything we can do to help? Abuse of power should be addressed up the chain of command or some other way. Ab.

2/13 I just have a couple of things to get off my chest so here they go.

First off, I just want to say the FS is the best wildland fire department in the world. No other department can come even close to the work ethic and knowledge the FS has in fighting wildland fires, not CDF (will never call them cal fire), county or local departments. Don't hate you guys, think you're great but just stating a fact, and many would agree with me on this one.

Second, the FS needs to pull their heads out of their a#$, and truly realize they have a serious problem. I know they're trying to make strides in this but the WO and R5 RO have only gone to show us they are not capable of looking out for us or supporting us. Do we really have to remind them WE ARE THE FOREST SERVICE, not them. We are the ones the public sees saving their lives, homes and valuables, protecting the environment.

What Mark Rey said about it's really not that big of a deal that we leave 'cause we'll still be in the ICS system, is total and complete BULL S%$#. He must really not care about the FS.

Third, where's the FS gonna be in 10 years when most of all the old knowledge and work ethic is gone and retired, and all us youngsters keep leaving so we can actually make a good living? I've worked in so cal for the FS for 7 years now and cant wait to get out. Don't get me wrong, I truly love working for the FS. The people I've meet and the work ethic and knowledge I've gotten from all my overhead is invaluable and I will take this with me when I go. But the fact of the matter is it is only going to get worse before it gets better if it ever gets better. The FS needs to do a complete 180 and get into the 21st century, it seems like the WO wants to keep us in the early 1900's. I don't really see alot coming out of all this in Washington, they will do just enuff to get congress off their backs and then it will be the dark ages all over again. I really truly hope they amaze us all with what they come out with in the end.

To all who are planning to stay with the feds, good luck to you and keep your hopes high and keep showing the rest of the world why the U.S. Forest Service is the BEST wildland firefighting force in the world.

JB

2/13 Re vehicles and response:

My green engine is as well equipped as any schedule B engine that the state offers, be it medical aids, vehicle fires, vehicle accidents or personnel and I have the utmost respect for CalFire. I feel it is a disservice to our personnel and the public, if we do not provide these tools to both. I think what our management fails to see that regardless of the Forest Service mission we are still public servants, regardless of our GS level, and our job is and always will be to serve the public.

smokeater.

2/13 hotshot75

On the bright side, not all the So. Cal employees received this 25% Plus increase
years back. Only the GS-3 or 4 step 1 did.. A GS- 7 step 10 only received
around a 9 or 10%, over a two year period. You received the greater of the cost
of living or the special pay act, not both.

scapegoat
2/12 Dear Keep the Chatter HIGH:

I agree that if the WO & RO FAM had been more open about addressing these concerns long ago, many of these "diatribes" as Mr. Hollenshead describes them would not have appeared.

What about the leadership our firefighters should expect & respect from the RO? It works both ways. Leadership demands communication...up front & honest, not ambiguous or deafening silence.

I think it imperative that Mr. Hollenshead's email notwithstanding, the voice of firefighters needs to continue to resonate. Why???

Simply refer to Mr. Mark Rey's testimony today before the House Interior Approps subcommittee in which he indicated that the FS was still trying to determine if there is a retention problem. He further suggested that while it was an "inconvenience" that the FS is in essence helping train state firefighter, on the other hand "we're still producing trained firefighters."

He suggested that it wasn't a big issue because the firefighters leaving the federal system would still be on the same fire lines. Ironically this is the same thing he told me during a DC meeting in the Spring of '05. Perhaps the fact that these former federal wildland firefighters would now be costing the American taxpayer 3-5 times what they cost as a federal firefighters escaped Mr. Rey. Typically convenient.

He further stated that if the federal gov't were to match California's pay scale in SoCal it would increase costs as well as pull firefighters from other states.

No one... not the FWFSA, not the Federal Executive Board, NO ONE has advocated that the Forest Service "match" California's pay scale. His comment is demonstrative of just how out of touch with the realities of the field he is.

The FWFSA is considering appearing before the same committee on March 13th in Washington to once and for all put this nonsense to bed. The FWFSA will be in attendance at hearings before the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee on the Forest Service' "retention plan" (whatever that may be).

Fortunately the Chairman of the House Committee that endured Mr. Rey's testimony, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) have come to recognize Mr. Rey's testimony for what it is with respect to the fire program... bunk.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/12 In response to Normbc9 and -J,

One issue you are forgetting is that no one can depend on FS for primary medical care year round and 24/7 as they are not manned that way.
We had an incident on the CNF Sunday where a woman wrapped her motorcycle around a tree, near a USFS Station. The station was closed. Local VFD got the call and the chief got on the radio and first thing he said was "responding alone but to start CDF engine"; from about 15 miles away. Also the closest available ambulance was from a BLM Department about 30 miles away; on some bad roads.

VFD Chief was first in, his department rig did not report "responding" until just before the CDF engine went "on scene" and they had to travel about as far as the CDF engine did. No air ambulance was readily available. Luckily it was a collision estimated to be at "about 40 MPH". The VFD Chief, obviously an EMT, gave very detailed information to the BLM Paramedic. They were rolling to the hospital within minutes of arrival on scene. Obviously the CDF crew had the patient packaged and ready for the ambulance.

Point being if CNF engine manned and equipped they would have been there in much faster time than anyone else. It just goes to show yes FS does provide aid (Look at what BDF engine 57 did the month before the Esperanza) they do it all the time on the CNF. Just are not a dependable 24/7 365 available resource; and the crews only have EMT if they do it on their own. Just are not as well equipped for medical as the CDF engines.

Please I am in no way detracting from what the Green Engine troops do and try to do. I am just pointing out the difference a station manned and engine equipped might have made, if it had been a more serious accident.

ht
2/12 An email from Edward on the CDF takeover rumor.

Chief,
I got the trailing email sent to me. is there any truth to this? Contract to CDF ??

Don...
There is no truth in the assertion of on-going plans to contract USFS fire operations to CalFire. Not on 12 forests, not on a single forest. As you know, our Regional Forester, Randy Moore, identified quickly with two principal themes affecting retention throughout California and, specifically, in Southern California. One was the migrating mission in the 21st century environment, the other was pay disparity between FS and other fire and emergency management agencies. The pay options we developed in December are not budget neutral and if implemented would require a substantial commitment of budget. In our anticipation of the question, we worked with CalFire to develop an estimate of the cost to contract fire operations on the four-southern Forests. That analysis, though in draft form, clearly shows the cost would be prohibitive, not to mention the myriad of intangible costs and issues that would accompany such an action. While I know we will likely have to refine data and answer questions of nuance, I doubt the conclusion will be any different... just as it was when a similar analysis was performed in 1990. I am dismayed by the mischaracterization of agency leadership found in these and other diatribes one reads in the blogs. They are neither accurate, nor do they reflect any understanding of the positions these people hold, or the actions they are taking to help us resolve these difficult issues. Thank you for bringing this straight up to my attention. That's the kind of leadership I expect and respect.
-ed-

Final comment from the theysaider; Maybe your so called mischaracterizations of agency leadership would not occur if you and others would not of closed your eyes to the problems for the past 4 years. Good grief.

One and all, keep hammering away until we get what is long overdue. No rest, keep them on their toes. You know we have them exactly where we want them when they are reading our stuff more than we read all their new rules and regulations.

Keep the chatter HIGH

2/12 Regarding Founding Legislation and History of the Forest Service's Traditional Role:

Forest Service at a Glance

<snip>
After World War II, the Forest Service worked with Congress to provide lumber for the rapidly growing home market. During the 1950s, timber management became an area of emphasis for the agency. Timber production increased through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1960, Congress passed the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act. This act gave recreation, fish, wildlife, water, wilderness, and grazing priority, along with timber management, conservation and protection, and Forest Service resource planning.<snip>

Lobotomy

2/12 From Firescribe:

Forest Service studying loss of U.S. firefighters to Calif. force
www.signonsandiego.com

WASHINGTON – A top federal official acknowledged Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service is losing federal firefighters in California to state and county departments that pay more.

But Agriculture Department Undersecretary Mark Rey, who directs U.S. forest policy, told concerned lawmakers he's still evaluating how much of a problem that is.

“On the one hand you hate to lose trained people. On the other hand they're still fighting fires under a unified command system,” Rey told a hearing of the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee. “They're going to be on the fire line along with the federal firefighters.” (Click the link for the rest of the article.)

2/12 In response to Lobotomy concerning Washington seasonal benefits (couldn’t find them),
all DNR employees also receive a $2.00 per hour increase whenever they work under
ICS. The seasonal benefits also include accrued sick leave and the natural resource
worker positions also accrue state retirement.

BigBlue
2/12 Ab and All, here is a response from Ed H. in regard to the FS to Cal Fire suppression. The heat must be on.

There is no truth in the assertion of on-going plans to contract USFS fire operations to CalFire. Not on 12 forests, not on a single forest. As you know, our Regional Forester, Randy Moore, identified quickly with two principal themes affecting retention throughout California and, specifically, in Southern California. One was the migrating mission in the 21st century environment, the other was pay disparity between FS and other fire and emergency management agencies. The pay options we developed in December are not budget neutral and if implemented would require a substantial commitment of budget. In our anticipation of the question, we worked with CalFire to develop an estimate of the cost to contract fire operations on the four-southern Forests. That analysis, though in draft form, clearly shows the cost would be prohibitive, not to mention the myriad of intangible costs and issues that would accompany such an action. While I know we will likely have to refine data and answer questions of nuance, I doubt the conclusion will be any different... just as it was when a similar analysis was performed in 1990.

I am dismayed by the mischaracterization of agency leadership found in these and other diatribes one reads in the blogs. They are neither accurate, nor do they reflect any understanding of the positions these people hold, or the actions they are taking to help us resolve these difficult issues.

Thank you for bringing this straight up to my attention. That's the kind of leadership I expect and respect.

-ed-

NonameFire

I agree that groundpounders do not understand the actions upper FS managers are taking to help resolve the issues. Communication is key. Leaders communicate. Ab.

2/12 Hey Scapegoat,

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner but the cows was needing fed, the hogs slopped
and I had to attend my bruther Billy Bob's weddin' (he's done found the girl of his dreams, my Aunt
Gertrude) I sure hope they will be real happy raising their 14 kids on the south 40 in that leaky
roofed old shack shack that is father-in-law (our grandpa) built. He took the old slip-on fire
truck (you know the one they used to let him keep at the house) down to Texas yesterday on a I.A.
detail for a couple of weeks. I'll let him know you was thinkin' about him.

But really I was just trying to give some hope to some of the young firefighters out there who need
know that the Government is never going to pay them Rock Star wages to fight fire in the Santa
Barbara Mountains and that there are other places to work.

There is no way, no matter who is running the administration, that the Government is going to raise
a GS-4 firefighter's base pay to $60,000 (2008 dollars) a year. Even if they did you still couldn't
afford a home there. So. Cal got a 25% pay increase a long time ago and still the retention rate
dropped there are a lot bigger problems than just pay and housing.

On the bright side the with the lousy economy the housing market is in a nose dive so you might
find a real good deal on a 3 bedroom one bath house for $600,000 instead of $750,000

I suppose some would like to see the fire service go the way of the military and build bases with
housing and medical clinics and govt. grocery stores on site. But that is not the answer cause we
have military families on food stamps.

I made a life decision to move to an area where I could afford to live on what I made without my
wife having to work unless she wants to. Where my kids can breath good air and drink good water
and go to good schools. Where I can leave my keys in the car and only lock my house if I leave the
county. And guess what else? Our crews are out on fires over 100 days a year so we have plenty of
work to go around.

On second thought just stay where you are, don't need a population boom here it would screw it all
up.

hotshot75

Haw Haw. Your country is beautiful. Ab.

2/12 -J,

I travel frequently throughout the state of California and I have observed transportation incidents (air, highway, rail, water) and see Green trucks in attendance, and many times they are the only emergency vehicle on scene. I do know the services they offer are limited by the lack of proper tools but if they are the same as those I knew a few years ago, someone is laying hard earned money out their pockets to obtain the needed tools. That is a shame but a tribute to the “Can Do” attitude of your professionals. Imagine the harm done if someone stopped at the station and reported an accident with injuries and the only response one could give was to pick up the phone and call 911? It would be devastating to the entire organization. This is but another issue illustrating the failure of the organization to keep up with the demands for service made daily. I don’t care what the organizational tenants are. The priorities still are life safety first and then the rest comes later. How about accidents occurring on Forest Highways? What you describe to me is federal firefighters doing the job the community expects them to do regardless of who the employer is. I commend their spirit and ingenuity. The entire policy system of the USFS badly needs revision and updating.

Normbc9

2/11 Where can I find out if anyone in the Fed world is looking for detailers?
Is there a website, or do you need to know someone, somewhere?

Thank You
Cold in R1

2/11 Re what we do -- all risk -- in our communities

I'm sure a lot of people who read this are already aware that R5 fire stations that are near major highways that run within the forest respond to vehicle accidents, vehicle fires, medical aides, and the like. So do stations in the area where an all-risk incident is occurring. We follow our SOPs which outline the response, and justify the response as protecting the forest from the eminent threat of fire in the case of vehicle fires, but in all truth the public knows where we are and of our support.

The public drives right by our stations and if we didn't respond, there would be many angry people especially if it was someone they knew who was involved in the accident. For medical aides the public may just show up at the station to receive aid while they wait for the response from county fire and private medics. It's not a a matter of "Just saying no, we don't do that". We live in the community, people know our capabilities and where we work. It does not matter what we are called or what we are tasked with, whether it's in our job description or the agency's catch-all of duties as assigned, we respond.

So for those who don't think that we in the FS are responding to these incidents, we are -- maybe not in all areas or in a large number --but where we do respond, it's in a number large enough to make the community glad that we're there.

-J

2/11Forest Service Handbook (FSH) Interim Directive 6709.11, 2008

Travel,
All Terrain Vehicle / UTV Policy

"By June 13, 2013 all units must stop using ATVs for “industrial use”
applications and use only UTVs for “industrial use” activities."

from R8 -
Louie, Louie, awwww baby, we gotta go, nah nah nah nah
guess we gotta get in those last rides

PS... Ab add "tongue in cheek" on mine. Louie Louie with air guitar.

Found this site: www.fs.fed.us/im/directives/ Ab.

2/11I just want to address Mr. Harbour saying in his speech at the Apprentice Graduation that we as USFS Wildland Firefighters don't do all risk.

But he did mentioned the events that change our lives that we responded to, like 9-11 with the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon. Also he mentioned Hurricane Katrina. What he didn't mention was the Space Shuttle Crash and all the other non-wildland fire events that the USFS responded to that are all risk.

I think it's about time that Mr. Harbour and everyone in the RO and WO recognize that we do respond to all risk situations all the time.

Dan

2/11Contracting out federal fire

All,

To my knowledge, BLM contracts all fire suppression to ODF (west of the Cascades) and to Cal Fire (west of the Sierras) and they take care of the rest of their federal lands. If you ponder it, that's not much land at all, so the cost and contracts issue is probably nothing. If the FS were to do the same, it would take years and years to figure out who deals with what (NEPA, Law Suits, etc.) and then the real issue would come to head, the COST of fire suppression. Just look what has happened to the "Amador Contracts" that Cal Fire has had to give up because they have gotten too expensive for certain counties to use them. I know Lassen County among others have decided against such contracts in recent years (3-5) due to costs. So once again, consider the Serco quagmire and cost as you talk with your congressional rep.

Casey, keep up the good fight.

Noname-Fire

2/11The Jobs page Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
2/11 I was recently asked if nomex fleece is approved as an outer layer for
burning. Do you know? Thanks for any help!

KM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reply to the person asking:

There are a couple of issues at hand.
1. Make sure that Nomex fleece (or other flame resistant material) cold
weather garments are made to be NFPA 1977 compliant, this ensures, among
many issues, that the garment is made with all flame/heat resistant
materials. Check the label to ensure compliancy.

2. The standard issue yellow fire shirts can be worn under the jacket.
Nomex fleece/FR material jackets come in many colors, some quite dark, one
thing to be aware of is the visibility of the firefighter while wearing a
dark colored jacket.

Hope this helps.
Tony P
Fire Equipment Specialist
Missoula Technology and Development Center

2/11 From CalFire: Warnings of poisonous flowers and vegetation in recently burned areas

Beware of the flowers - letter (119K doc file)

Beware of the Flowers doc with pictures (164K doc file)

2/11 Declaration of State of Emergency due to Hazardous Fuels Buildup -Trinity County

On Tuesday Trinity Co. declared a fire emergency. The following
link is to their website and includes the declaration along with a letter
they are sending to 6 Senators, 2 Congressman, Mark Rey and the
FS Chief.

www.trinitycounty.org/Departments/Admin-Bos-Cao/agenda%20min/Backup/602.pdf

2/11 Had red flag warnings in Virginia yesterday with RHs in the teens, winds sustained up to 40 mph and gusts in some places closer to 60. Any power lines down, and there were plenty, and a fire was gonna go. Today, red flags all over Florida, Georgia etc. Texas has been picking up fires the last few days too, in addition to what you mentioned in Virginia and the Carolinas. Miserable @*$# weather to be on the fire line -- cold!

Still Out There ...

Couple of posts from GA Peach on the Hotlist this morning. Thanks, GA Peach. Sounds like they're so busy fighting fire that many don't have time for 209s. Ab.

2/11 Fires raging in the Carolinas and Virginia:

CNN News this morning is saying there are 250 fires covering more than 6000 acres in North and South Carolina and Virginia; some started by electrical wires rubbing on trees in the wind; others started by unsafe trash burning given the drought and windy conditions.

A number of homes have burned near Conway, South Carolina.

Perhaps some southerners will have a chance to write in with details. Ab.

2/11 From the Hotlist:

If one studies the history and mandates of the United States Forest Service, and as others suggest - "follow the money," it is really quite simple to see why the agency is in this conundrum. Timber was king. Timber receipts from the sale of BILLIONS of board feet annually not only added 75% of its profit to the US Treasury, but also 25% to local counties and schools.

When the FS was forced out of the timber business beginning in the early 1980's - the "profits" went to lawsuits fighting in the courts with the enviro-attorneys - until the timber attorney's fought back - bottom line: no timber got sold and the government federal deficit increased because somehow these lawsuits had to be paid for. Where at once the Forest Service provided a net income to the Treasury, now we are a liability reliant on the fickle finger of the federal budget. This Was and IS the paradigm shift that changed the culture of the Forest Service.

I would rather see the Forest Service fulfill its mission to maintain the integral ecology of the planet and ensure that these primary sinks of oxygen, water and clean air remain. FS is not a WUI machine. Let fire go to a federal, or contemporary fire service and let the forest service manage and administer the public trust.

We saw the culture change in the 1980's and it is here again in the 2010's. Get used to it. The solution is not in the past but the future. Give fire to those that want it and use fire only in the forests the way that nature intended it. The earth is more adaptable than its species. People and animals may not survive, but the forests will - with or without protection from fire - with or without fire protection from people.

Sorry, I'm just

looking ahead.....

2/11 Everyone,

I asked Jeanne P-T, our R5 IFPM guru to keep me/us up-to-date with what's
going on with IFPM quals and deadlines. She sent this message this morning.

Thanks, Jeanne, for remembering.

Mellie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FPM Mid-Course Review update (Barnett)
Lots of rumors out there. The controlling group is now NWCG as the
Natl Fire and Aviation Executive Board has been dissolved. They are
taking on the role to work with the implementation team to review
areas; they have 7 areas they have as far as concerns and potential
mid course corrections. I will be providing input to that group
overall. The FS will look at the recommendations that group makes
all the way up to Tom Harbor and Tom will provide the vote direction
for the FS on those issues where a recommended alternative applies.
This could be anything from a program extension for instance, the OPM
regulations (NWCG courses no longer applicable unless on a
transcript) to potential elimination of one or more of the key 14
positions. As we all know, the two that have come under the most
criticism are prevention and dispatch. These decisions are due in
April.

Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Chief, Fire and Aviation Mgmt.
Incident Commander, Team 3
Tahoe National Forest

2/11 Green Pants Blue,

Thanks for the reply. There are definitely issues on the LP and I really feel for you guys. I haven’t worked there for over ten years. I do live like a king in my particular state, but I remember listening to someone from SoCal telling me how easy I had it because we didn’t have the fires you have in CA. Well, the last dozen or so states I’ve worked in keep reminding me of CA. Maybe its climate change coupled with the mass migration to the urban interface, but I’ve been to fires in every month of the year in a state that most people associate with freezing cold and snow.

The slap in the face over housing and red lights/sirens has got to be tough to take. The current Administration has been trying to get rid of us, but maybe the next one will give us some help. Keep up the good work.

Midwest afmo
2/11 Ab,

You hit it on the head with our staffing levels. Cal Fire is in a transition now to attempt to keep what we have in fire protection staffing, and expand where we have been needing improvement for years. Our helicopter fleet is aging. We have for years been seeking replacement aircraft. As for the 700 extra FFs. We have been asking for 4 FFs per engine Statewide. Our union leadership has been instrumental in working with the agency and the legislature to try to make this happen. These 700 Firefighters are for Cal Fire. Not for the USFS contract, but for Cal Fire increasing staffing levels on each of its engine companies.

I think everyone should take a collective breath. The rumor that Cal Fire is going to contract with the USFS has been circulating for years. It just got dusted off with everything else that is going on in your agency.

This rumor is just that. A "RUMOR". It would be extremely difficult for Cal Fire to encompass fire protection on National Forests. Frankly, given what we are experiencing, I cannot see us as an agency taking on such a large task. We have bigger issues to deal with as an agency and we cannot, at least for the foreseeable future, take on a mission such as this.

Cal Fire, as an agency as most other large agencies, is the worst at keeping information confidential. I can honestly say that except for this board I have heard nothing of Cal Fire contracting with a Federal agency. Most of our focus is on local government agencies that approach us for dispatching, paramedic, or other municipal type fire protection services.

On a side note. From an agency looking from the outside in. It sickens me to see such policies being implemented and tearing the USFS in Region 5 apart. It simply degrades the level of service you are giving the public you are tasked with protecting.

For the USFS W.O. who read these messages.

Your personal agenda against R5 is reprehensible as it fails to protect the public! You should be ashamed.

Firefighters, Stay united, Stay strong. You will prevail!!

Cal Fire Jake

The arrangement for a meeting is not a rumor, however. Ab.

2/11 "Doctrine is the antithesis of Checklists"

(and shorthand for common sense and situational awareness - simple things
that can not be "put" in your hands but rather, "instilled" in your minds)

Forkinthetrail
2/11 MOC

You keep mentioning CDF while you distress the state of the Forest Service.
You describe the Forest Service losing its fire funding if it doesn't "do"
fire.

Can you tell me when California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
changed its name to CAL-FIRE? And why?

Who is doing the forestry work for California's forests?

signed,
"Ignorant in the mist"
2/11 Re Harbour's speech to the apprentices....

If I read/hear another "leader" mention sunsets, I'm
going to puke.

Gimme a break.

noname51

2/11 Harbour = LIVING IN A TENT DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!!!!

REL

2/10 Abs,

I was reading the post that NonameFire posted regarding some secret meeting with CDF (aka Cal-Fire) and Tom Harbour. He said that there is an upper level meeting about turning over R-5 Fire Management of 12 California forests.

This may be a confirmation of that piece of information.

On Wednesday, I attended the Firehouse World Conference in San Diego. The keynote speaker was the CDF Director, Ruben Grijalva, and Chief John Hawkins. Both presented an overview of the 2007 Southern California Fires on the things that went right, what went wrong, and what was learned. Then the Director talked about changes to CDF coming in the near future.

One of the subjects that was discussed about the future was improvements in CDF's Helitack Program, which included replacing all the Vietnam-Era UH-1H "Huey" Helicopters with new one, brand new ones, and the purchase of three Sikorsky FireHawk helicopters. The 11 old helicopters would be given to local governments to use for fire and search & rescue. Not placed in reserved, released for other agencies to use.

Director Grijalva then "emphasized" CDF's plan for staffing, with almost all the state engines to have 4-0 staffing for the fire season. The director also emphasized that the hiring of seasonal firefighters was normally around 1500, and that 700 NEW FIREFIGHTERS were going to be hired in the near future.

The director told us at this meeting that the Governor Arnold approved these fiscal improvements and would uphold these costs, even though the State of California is right now looking at a $15-20 Billion shortfall in state tax revenue. How much does a new Bell 412 helo cost? How much does a civilian BlackHawk helo cost? That is a capital outlay of hundreds of millions of dollars in a deficit year.

Think about this, CDF has been doing the 4-0 staffing with those 1500 seasonal firefighters, why do they need the extra 700 firefighters?

Now add this into the equation, CDF has been exploring placing new stations in sections of National Forests across the state to better protect SRA land patches located within the National Forests. In the Butte Ranger Unit, there are at least two stations being planned into the Plumas NF, well into Plumas County, outside Butte's response area.

39BCNorm, a former CDF Battalion Chief, has been telling me over the last year that CDF is taking steps to move in to taking over R-5 Forest's Fire Management. I did not believe what he was saying, but look at the facts. It came out very quietly in San Diego last week from the CDF Director.

The costs for CDF to come in and do R-5 Fire Management would quadruple, and that is not an effective way to fund the fire program.

To Mr. Tom Harbour: I have not met you nor have I worked for you, and as a former federal wildland firefighter (1987-1995) I can't tell how ashamed I am of how the leadership of the US Forest Service in R-5 had fallen apart. Your budget has been usurped for non-fire projects (which is supposed to be illegal), your people are leaving in groves for better paying state and local government jobs at lower ranks, there is little or no support from forest leadership for Fire, our members are being held to criminal charges for accidents on fire scenes for what our counterparts in the full-service fire departments consider a normal danger of the job, you ignore the dedicated people from your Engine Captain's work group coming up with ideas to improve things, and now it looks very much like R-5 Fire & Aviation Management is being pawned off on the state, or worse to private contractors.

The Forest Leadership's reply to these issues is to conduct studies, talk about things to hear their own voices, and come up with completely unrelated but STUPID memos regarding Code-3 driving policies not related to any incidents with the subject, ordering fire personnel to remove unauthorized collar brass, badges, and patches not approved. Everything is being done to work AROUND the problem, INSTEAD OF ON THE PROBLEM!

When corporations fails their contracts, when salesmen don't meet quotas, and when the CEO's actions cause a loss of profits, those people responsible for not performing are replaced with people who can meet the objectives and responsibilities are replaced. The laymen’s term is:

YOU'RE FIRED! GET OUT! NO GOLDEN PARACHUTE FOR YOU!!

Something is broken. Something is really broken because this kind of ineffectiveness would not have happened 20 years ago. And we as an organization, trying to provide for a safer environment for our firefighters, have painted ourselves in a corner with regulations and rules for what has been forgotten is a dangerous job. Firefighting is dangerous, be it wildland, structural, industrial, or aircraft.

Casey Judd, I don't know all the work you are doing but I know you are effective at what you do. Keep up your good work, but all the changes and benefits you have worked for will go to naught if the organization falls apart. Isn’t it time for the Heavy Politicians (Senator Feinstein, Speaker Pelosi, and Congressman Herger) who are critical of the Forest Service in R-5 to step up to the plate and slam some heads into the desk?

As time progresses, things evolve, change occurs, and those who don’t change die. Bureaucracy has increased, personal responsibility has been shifted for those in upper-level management, and the organization has stagnated. The Forest Service, and the other land management agencies, need to look at CDF as an example of the level of service that the public expects to see. For those of you fed firefighters looking to go to CDF, you are going to have to go to the medical aids, the car fires, the structure fires, the Haz-Mat incidents, vehicle accidents, EVERYTHING, not just wildland fires. This is one of the things the FS needs to do to survive. BLM and NPS have taken those extra steps, and hire people with those full-service skills. And anyone not willing to take on these responsibilities needs to find another job. Progress, or wither.

As to the issue of contracting, at what point did contracting become the priority? When did this shift happen? When I started doing this and was exposed to wildland fire suppression contractors, these were private individuals and businesses that provided resources for the point of relieving IA federal resources to go to other fires, to serve to do mop-up operations, to support government management and suppression, and all of this was based as an on-call resource, with no guarantee of payment unless they went to a fire.

Today, these private contractors have government contracts to provide 7-day staffing of engines and crews, to provide fuel reduction projects, to conduct control burns, IA responsibilities that substitute for federal fire resources. And while these things have happened for private contractors, government resources have been reduced. I don’t care what the privates have to say about them being more ‘cost effective’, but the costs that I saw with a contractor I know showed the cost were higher than a similar government resource.

It seems to me that the simple solution to contractors, is to make them a secondary private resource again, like what it was 20 years ago. And like any private contractor, you only get paid when there is a fire, and only when you are called to go there. Not paid to be on standby. Not be paid to do the government’s control burns, and fuel reduction projects. This is common sense.

But I digress here. Changes need to happen for Federal Fire Management. I support a Federal Wildland Fire Service, but to do that you need to take away that control from the Forest Service, BLM, NPS, USF&W, and BIA. Those overall superintendents and managers outside of fire don’t want to lose that control, nor the illegal control of shifting funds from fire to non-fire projects. Until we see a Forest Superintendent being led away in handcuffs for diverting funds, not much will change. When those who sit in the palace find themselves thrown out of their jobs with no retirement, no benefits, and no more government career, MAYBE things will change.

Does the Forest Service want out of Fire Management? If so, they need to understand that they then LOSE that funding. If they want to contract out, why not ask BLM to come in and do it? Same reason, they don’t want to lose control of that funding. It is supposed to be illegal to shift funds that way, but no one holds those decision makers responsible.

MOC4546

MOC, CalFire is authorized to be at not less than 82% of their designated "State of Readiness". They have been below that for some time. End of last year they had 640+ open positions. Their fire forces continue to retire; some leave for better paying jobs. They must increase their numbers. 700 is not an unreasonable target. Ab.

2/10 Hi Ab,

My inside the USFS source tells me there is a meeting and it will be held on neutral ground as requested by HQ USFS. The Contract County Fire agencies are also invited to attend. The reason for the delay was the attempts to find a way to not create any suspicion by anyone about what is going on. This is being billed as the annual Pre Fire Season meeting which is usually held later in the spring.

The agenda is:

1. New name for the fire group of the USFS to US Fire Service.
2. Open discussion about contracting to other government agencies to handle the emergency services needs within the Region 5 National Forests.
3. Is there a possibility of a short term agreement to offer protection of Forest lands that may be affected by an early fire season in the desert interface areas?
4. Can such an agreement be completed expeditiously?
5. What USFS resources will be exempt from any of the New Reorganization? (Cal Fire readers; does this strike a funny bone?)
6. Explanation of the use of private contractors to perform some emergency operations tasks previously performed by USFS personnel.

As the FWFSA has told us before, don’t be a bit surprised by anything right now. FWFSA is our eyes, ears and hope so let's not forget to get in there and support them. They are our strongest ally and they are us.

Normbc9

Thanks Norm. Ab.

2/10 In regards to the "secret" meeting of Tom Harbour and CALFIRE. Is there anything to substantiate the claim that CALFIRE will be providing anymore coverage to NF lands than they currently do?

I realize Casey and the FWFSA are highly regarded on They Said. I also think FWFSA is doing a great job. Respectfully: Casey, could you please expand on your and FWFSA's concern that this "secret" meeting will be about a "cross-boundary" policy that would supplant Fed protection with CALFIRE protection in USFS Region 5?

FWIW-

Pay, housing, proper leadership and many other things are legitimate retention and quality of life issues for firefighters in R5 and around the nation. I applaud you for your work towards achieving change in these areas.

A separate, stovepiped fire program may be appropriate in South Ops. R5. I personally, and I think others believe that it may not be appropriate for many other regions in the nation. I personally signed on with a multi-resource land management agency. This means I do TSI, prescribed fire, trail work, campground maintenance, BAER work, etc, etc. All of this on top of my primary job of fire suppression.

I, personally do not want to work for a fire department; if I did, I would be working for a structure department. I enjoy working with the 'ologists, they bring a different and valuable perspective to the very complex task of managing our federal lands.

Being acknowledged as a Wildland FireFighter is high on my list of wants from the agency. That and getting a paycheck on time.

I certainly think that a separate fire program is not something we should move to immediately, if at all. And certainly not without due and careful consideration. I think Midwest FMO nailed it on this.

burn

Cross Boundary Protection Concept Letter It's a concept, hopefully one that was dismissed and will not be found to be viable now. Ab.

2/10 Firefighters,

We need your help. I am a spouse of a firefighter that has worked for the Forest Service for over 20 years. My family will be directly affected by the new housing policy that Mr. Ken Heffner, Deputy Forest Supervisor, has written. If this change in policy goes through, my family will be homeless!! Not only homeless, but still paying a mortgage for a house we cannot occupy or sell. To me this is disturbing and, more importantly, unjust. Over 60 families will be affected, not just mine.

Wildland firefighters have a true passion for the service they provide. It is more than just a mere job to them. It is preserving our National Forests, and protecting people and property. They work with dedicated pride for the Forest Service of the United States of America. Experienced firefighters of 5, 15, 25 years of dedicated service are being forced to leave their homes. Firefighters risk their lives to save people, their house, and their property, only to lose their own? This is extreme and an ultimate injustice.

My husband and I lived in a 2 bedroom mobile home in Santa Barbara County. We had a child at the time. We decided we wanted to have a bigger family and started pursuing housing options. We came to the conclusion that we were not able to afford housing in the central coast area. At that time my husband looked into government housing. We bought a $100,000 manufactured home and were told that we could put on a pad in the Los Padres Mobile Home Park. We were also told that once we decided to move or my husband was promoted that we would be able to sell our home. We could not get a loan without a signature from the District Ranger. Now Mr. Ken Heffner has decided to come in and change the housing policy. And with the changes that he wants to make, it will be impossible for us to sell our house and get the money back that we need to be able to put a down payment for another house.

My husband has missed out on a lot of memories with his kids because he is constantly gone fighting fires. That is his job and he truly has a passion for what he does. Don’t let his time away from his kids be a waste. Please give us the opportunity to continue to give the stability that our kids deserve. If you would like to help us, please write your congressional representatives and senators.

We need your help. None of our families deserve this.

Spacorky

2/10 Re: Pay and Benefits at the ENTRY LEVELS: a primer on the simple facts of the increasing costs of federal fire suppression.

We'll start the lesson for Mr. Harbour et al again. at the state levels of entry pay in the west for state agencies only. Future lessons will concentrate on cooperator pay (local government), other competitors (In-N-Out, Walmart, and others), and contractors who offer similar packages that are affecting the recruitment and retention of federal wildland firefighters will come later.

Don't get us wrong.. We aren't against state, local government, or contractors. We are trying to ensure the continued delivery of a cost efficient and effective program (mission) that the public expects and deserves.

An advanced lesson will be given (again) as to how recruitment and retention at all levels of the agency determines the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the mission and the taxpayer.

I am starting out simple here so everyone who isn't a wildland firefighter (or supporter) can follow and understand the chaos we're in and the direction we need to go.

This is Maslow Basics (Psychology) 101. We should be looking far forward to "self actualization" rather than worrying about food, water, and shelter for our families and our friends, and somehow keeping the job we love afloat due to some misaligned allegiance to the "mission or Captain" ... known long ago as the concept of the Forest Service Family.

I hate to say it, but we are all enablers (another psychology term) of the bureaucracy that has caused the problem (allowing the ship to sink without speaking out.. aka CRM. aka Latent Failures... And us allowing the people and processes whom have failed us to continue to lead us to eventual demise.

Good Captains correct course before steering their crew into danger.. Some even went against the wishes of the King or Queen,,,,, Tom, are you correcting course?

I love my job and the Forest Service so much that I'll honestly speak to the facts and ask others to do so also.

Lobotomy

Nevada:


Seasonal Firefighter 1 - $30,192.48 to $43,806.24 per annum.
Seasonal Firefighter 2 - $32,739.84 to $47,773.44 per annum.

Benefits Unknown.

California:

Seasonal Firefighter 1 - $28,056 to $34,116, PLUS planned overtime and benefits.
Permanent Firefighter 2 - $33,324 to $40,488, PLUS planned overtime and benefits.

Oregon:

Forest Lookout - $9.29 to $12.29 per hour. Housing and utilities furnished at some locations. Other benefits available *.
Laborer 1 - $10.20 to $13.77 per hour. Other benefits available *.
Laborer 2 - $11.44 to $15.70 per hour. Other benefits available *.

•     - http://egov.oregon.gov/ODF/HUMAN_RESOURCES/paybenefits.shtml

Washington:

•    The Forest Fire Fighter $1,582 per month or $9.09 per hour (maximum salary, depending on time/seasons spent in the job, is $1,810 per month or $10.40 per hour.)
•    The Natural Resource Worker base starting salary is: $2,119 per month or $12.18 per hour (maximum salary, depending on time spent in the job, is $2,734 per month or $15.71 per hour.)

Benefits Unknown.

Montana:

SOUTHWESTERN LAND OFFICE
SOUTHWESTERN LAND OFFICE
Anaconda: (FREE LODGING PROVIDED) Pay
Firefighter                    $9.92/ $10.79
Engine Boss       $11.76/ $12.81
Single Resource Boss/Crew Boss $11.76/ $12.81
(guaranteed seasonal-6 months)
Garrison: (FREE LODGING PROVIDED)
90607/90608  Firefighter     $9.92/ $ 10.79
90608  Lookout/Relief Lookout    $10.79
90609  Initial Attack Dispatcher  $11.76
90609/90610  Engine Boss    $11.76/ $12.81
Clearwater (Greenough): (FREE LODGING PROVIDED)
90607/08     Firefighter    $9.92/ $10.79
90609/90610  Engine Boss    $11.76/ $12.81
90609   Initial Attack Dispatcher $11.76
90608  Radio Operator/Relief Radio Operator$10.79
Lincoln: (FREE LODGING PROVIDED)
90607/08     Firefighter    $9.92/$10.79
90608  Radio Operator/Relief Radio Operator$10.79
90609/90610   Engine Boss    $11.76/ $12.81
Missoula:
90607/08     Firefighter     $9.92/ $10.79
90608   Lookout/Relief Lookout   $10.79
90609/90610  Engine Boss      $11.76/ $12.81
SWLO   
90607/08 Helicopter Crew Member   $9.92/$10.79
90610   Forestry Technician    $12.81
90609   Fuel Truck Driver    $11.76
90609    Aerial Observer    $11.76

Idaho:

No listings yet. Limited state program exists, but relies primarily on local and federal resources and funding.

Utah:

No listing yet. Another world. Their state lands are managed by University Outreach programs, but relies primarily on local and federal resources and funding.

Colorado:

Another world. Their state lands are managed by University Outreach programs, but relies primarily on local and federal resources and funding.

Arizona:

No listings yet. Limited state program exists, but relies primarily on local and federal resources and funding.

New Mexico:

No listings yet. Limited state program exists, but relies primarily on local and federal resources and funding.

Texas:

Another world. Their state lands are managed by University Outreach programs, but rely primarily on local and federal resources and funding.
2/10 Lobotomy, Fire was not king in that it did not pay for itself, just as it does not do so today. When foresters of years ago said Timber was King, they meant that timber paid for many programs and costs of the FS, that's all. Ab.
2/10 I hope, that as folks clarify what they think the Forest Service mission is, they look at both Forest Service history and and expectations of our stakeholders before they jump to a hasty decisions based upon their personal and educational biases and expectations.

The Wildland Fire Program has been the FOUNDATION of the Forest Service since day #1 over 100 years ago. Start from day #1 of the Forest Service and read forward in your research, rather than reading backwards.

It sure isn't rocket science, forestry, or any other "allied occupations".

It is simply known as Wildland Fire Science... a really complex science developed over the last 100 plus years as things evolved and changed. If you try to pick it apart piece by piece and follow the money over the last 100 plus years, it gets really easy to understand.

/s/ Student of Fire

Fire was King (1905 to 1956), see the hotlist thread by Gizmo

Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, see Gizmo's hotlist thread on that one.

2/10 Tom Harbour said,

"I must remind you that in most places in this nation we, the federal wildland fire professional, are either at parity or more highly paid than our state, county, or local counterpart. "

Tom,

Do I need to put together another national breakdown of salaries, benefits, and working conditions for you? How about another breakdown of housing costs?

You need to address the current facts, and not what were facts 20 years ago. To mislead a group of entry level apprentices, as you have done, is wrong and contrary to your stated "ethos".

The western United States have changed drastically due to urbanization and competition for skilled employees. The western United States are where the majority of the Forest Service protected lands are, and where the bulk of the wildland fire management program exists.

Lobotomy

2/10 Email from Small Agency FMO and GA Peach.

Wildfires in Virginia, North and South Carolina.

Check the HOTLIST.

Ab.

2/10 Hey Ab,

This is in response to the post about Sierra College in Rocklin. This is where I got my start in wildland fire. Bill Bowman is the instructor. He an old dog from SoCal. Great teacher!! The week long class is good, the Eldorado NF helps with the line digging portion. The ENF and Sierra used to have an O.C. program where myself and many others got their start. Thanks for the great site!!!

CL
2/9 Harbour Speech to Apprentices... Sacramento
2/8/08

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2008/retention/020608speech-to-appr.doc

2/9 Red Flag Warnings from Fredericksburg VA south to Ft Meyers FL. for Sunday Feb 10th.

Weather Geek
2/9 Firefighter Want-to-Be,

Sierra College, in Rocklin, near Sacramento, is having a Fire Fighting Basics class on March 17-21 from 8AM-5:30PM Monday through Friday. The class is called Fire Tec 050. It's not on the coast... but it is only 5 days long, so only four nights in a hotel. Maybe you can meet someone in the class that will let you throw down a sleeping bag on their floor. I just checked and there are 8 spots still available in this class.

Fire Mom

Thanks Fire Mom. Ab.

2/9 For anyone interested, there is a Wildland Fire Class (Basic 32) at the
College of the Redwoods - Crescent City Campus (Northwest California).
Certificates issued upon completion are I-100, S-110, S-130, S-190, and L-180.
Cost is only $20 and it's first come first serve (45 seats available)
Registration is through the College at (707) 465-2300

Any questions, comments, concerns please email me at pzerr at fs.fed.us

Thanks for that info. Ab.

2/9 Trying

NIMO Teams - Nothing says they could not be moved to another agency. They are not a sole FS resource nor are they solely wildland fire suppression. They owe more of their reason for being to hurricanes and space shuttle wrecks than wildland fire. That they continue to be in the FS is only a recognition that wildland fire management is where the "federal" skill set got its skills. Heck move them to DHS and take the money for their salary etc. and fund more ground pounders, or build more remote station housing or use it some way to address retention!

'The argument I've heard against a federal wildland fire service cutting across the five land management agencies is that we need firefighters and fire MANAGERS to be integrated into the land management process. Because it's all about forest/land/park management. That's our mission(s)."

And

"What happens to the fire management part, and the ecology? Does CalFire take that on too? Do they handle all the fuels management, burn plans, lawsuits over fuel treatment, etc. and relations with the public? Fire prevention? And most importantly: what happens to Smokey The Bear? Ha ha ha..."

So how would that be any different if we had a "Federal Wildland Fire Management Service" (FWFMS)? Would the FWFMS be suppression only or would it be all facets of wildland fire management to include fuels treatments, prescribed fire for resources benefit (wildlife habitat, forage production, seedbed prep) and prevention (that leaves a home for the bear)? Would the FWFMS take on the ecology part of the Shawnee NF or the Pawnee NG? How would the FWFMS folks know that Desert Tortoise habitat protection is a big deal? Would the FWFMS folks write the fire management plan? Would the local Chief of the FWFMS sign the fire management plan? How many regions would the FWFMS have? And would they be numbered like the FS or BLM or BIA or FWS or NPS or DHS or come up with their own? Would Aglearn and DOIlearn be replaced by FIRELEARN? How would FWFMS organize itself to be able to field the kind of organization, skill sets and training expected in Southern California compared with a part of the country with a more traditional wildland fire management organization that has an extensive emergency management organization provided by local entities? Would this lead to a two tier level of skills and training? Would that then lead to different pay scales? How would the local FWFMS Chief influence the none FWSFMS employees to participate as militia? Or would the FWFMS be big enough that it did not need militia any more? Just the beginning of the devilish details of a stand alone Federal Fire Management Organization.

And there would be a "political appointee" running the FWFMS just like every other agency of the US government. And it would have its own HR shop, and procurement organization, and national and regional offices to pay for.

Midwest FMO

2/9 Re: CAL-FS-FIRE

It figures! The higher-ups in the Forest Service would rather give away the Fire Service than admit that they have to make progressive changes. Instead of changing they are making the statement that there are different needs today than when the Forest Service first began. No Kidding? Changes needed over time, who would have thought?

I guess CAL-FIRE (whom many Line Officers detest), will be needing additional Ex-Forest Service Firefighters. This time they will be needed to go and protect the Forest Service land. I would imagine that Firefighters with knowledge of the land management principals and the administrative policies would be a premium.

I guess we'll get our pay raises and equality one way or another.

Do the Line-Officers still think they will have a large fire $$pot$$ to pillage? Oh,.. maybe they forgot about that.

What the ----
2/9 Mellie or anyone know of basic fire training in norcal on the coast?
HROP already began. Anything else?

Firefighter want-to-be

2/9 Wow, I just sent my post and read Casey's latest.

Great post, Casey. I would add this perspective:

You said "I guess our fundamental thought is federal dollars ought to go to the federal wildland firefighters first". I think possibly a better sell to the government may be that decisions about federal dollars and federal LANDS ought to stay under federal management and control. The US Government and people have interests in those lands, and it ought to be (for them) about having the right and most appropriate management and actions taken on and for those lands and the complexities and challenges they bring. Budgets, managers, and policy makers seems to care more about agency mission than agency employees... but in this case... I think the threat, in the end, is to the agency mission (as well as its employees). Perhaps too much time in DC for me?

- Logic (Again)
2/9 All,

Lots of thoughts today. First of all, on the DC salary thread... I have a very good friend who is a GS-13 living in the DC area, and while it sounds like a lot of money (and it is!!), it has been a challenge for my friend to make mortgage payments while living a very simple life. As I've moved up the ranks of fire and other management myself, I can attest to one thing... it always sounds better and like management are living high on the hog (and making crazy decisions) until you sit in their seats for a while. I've worked for several departments and in DC, and I can say that the political environment out there is hard to understand until you work within it. Very different paradigm than out in the real world! But, bosses are bosses, and we've all got to answer to someone and try to find the best solution for our paradigm. Not that I'm defending the FS WO, but consider the administration for a minute and the struggle to try to do the right thing.

That being said, I am rather alarmed to hear about folks even considering contracting out fire protection for 12 forests in California. DANGER, DANGER! Holy crap. I know there is federal land under state fire protection in California (at least BLM and I think BIA, maybe FWS), but looking at Forests going that way sets a hell of a precedent.

This sets a precedent for contracting out any federal fire protection anywhere, and it says that federal firefighting work is not inherently governmental if it can be contracted. Or, it says that to me. I work in a world of contracting, and I spend my days cleaning up messes from contractors that can't get the job done and don't really care. It is absolutely appalling to see as a citizen and a taxpayer, but these decisions have been made. I shudder to think that the USDA Forest Service is seriously considering contracting out fire protection on such a large scale.

With that logic, why not also give fair consideration to a federal fire service?

The argument I've heard against a federal wildland fire service cutting across the five land management agencies is that we need firefighters and fire MANAGERS to be integrated into the land management process. Because it's all about forest/land/park management. That's our mission(s).

If the Region 5 Forest Service is seriously looking at contracting out fire protection, then I think we should seriously look at what this means in wildland fire overall. It says to me that fire protection is separate from fire management and separate from land management. Just using the logic.

With that logic, it should be time for the five agencies to look at major re-structuring. Giving up federal fire protection to the state could just as easily be done with a contract to a (not yet existing) federal wildland fire protection agency, and the federal government would maintain more control of its own federal budget that way. Firefighters could be on a separate salary scale than the GS system, and would be managed as professional firefighters.

Then again, looking at giving a contract to the state makes all those icky retention and pay and portal to portal and so on issues go away. Also don't have to bother with creating a federal wildland fire protection agency and totally changing the structure of five federal land management agencies in two departments. Pay a big check for fire protection, and suddenly CalFire can hire a bunch of folks who are treated and paid as firefighters. What happens to the fire management part, and the ecology? Does CalFire take that on too? Do they handle all the fuels management, burn plans, lawsuits over fuel treatment, etc. and relations with the public? Fire prevention? And most importantly: what happens to Smokey The Bear? Ha ha ha...

Ah, my questions for the day. More to come, I am sure.

Mellie, any source for the idea that the NIMO teams could go to DHS? Where? I'd be curious to hear more about how that would work. Raises another series of questions.

Be safe out there-

Trying (Again) To Apply Logic To Government
2/9 Retention, Lights & Sirens:

Seems pretty sad that management is more concerned about red light and
siren issues than retention and morale. At the rate they are going, there wont
be anyone left to read their stupid policies....

CDF might be cheaper per se, but only 1 person on their crew is being paid.
(not a bash on CDF).

Former Green Soldier

2/9 Dear "High Lonesome"

As we have worked to raise the awareness of Congress with respect to portal to portal and other benefits, one thing that we are obligated to address is how to pay for it all.

The simple answer is through better fiscal management of the fire program dollars by fire folks, not line officers.

The basis for our approach is also simple. We have utilized the existing appropriated dollars for suppression, preparedness and fuels over the last few years to demonstrate to congress where those dollars are actually going as compared to where they need to go to make the program more fiscally effective & efficient.

We have expressed a fundamental philosophy that as a result of the (we'll use the Forest Service as an example) Agency failing over a number of years to ensure it maintains its wildland firefighting strength by supporting improved pay & benefits, that strength has diminished.

The problem has been exacerbated by the systematic diversion of preparedness dollars by line officers to pay for non-fire projects. This in turn reduces the preparedness resources available in any given season whether they be temporary firefighters or other resources.

As a result, each season the Agency must "fill in the gaps" of that missing "strength" in its own program and the missing preparedness resources. Those gaps are filled in by non-federal resources, where, especially in R5, the costs are stunning. Look at the breakdown of the $118 million Zaca fire and see where the dollars went and you will see the staggering sums to non-federal resources.

Our point is this: If properly managed, there are currently sufficient appropriated funds to not only pay federal wildland firefighters portal to portal pay, but also provide them hazard pay while on prescribed burns and provide temporary firefighters eligibility to FEGLI and basic health coverage.

Doing so will strengthen the infrastructure of the federal wildland firefighting forces by reducing the retention crisis. Couple that with ensuring preparedness dollars go to preparedness resources and not non-fire costs, and those "gaps" I spoke of will be significantly reduced and, thus, the Agency's over-reliance on significantly more expensive non-federal resources will be diminished, ensuring there are adequate funds to pay for the improved pay & benefits.

I guess our fundamental thought is federal dollars ought to go to the federal wildland firefighters first. No one is expecting true pay parity. Further, we have NEVER called for the total elimination of contractors & cooperators from the wildland fire scene. However, these relatively simple fixes with ultimately provide the American taxpayer with the best wildland firefighters at the best cost.

Also recognize that any state or local agency tasked with fire management on federal lands would face federal regulations such as NEPA & others that they may not be familiar with and the potential for lawsuits would be staggering.

No one is to blame for the current problem except the leadership of the Agency(s) who have had their heads in the sand far too long and have "managed" to manage the fire program into crisis. I would encourage you to read the report Policy Implications of Large Fire Management: A Strategic Assessment of Factors Influencing Cost. One of those participating in the report was Tom Harbour.

Some excerpts referencing the Kirk Complex:

"In terms of costs to the fire, this translates into about $1,006 per shift for the State & local employee and $360 per shift for the federal employee. Clearly, this creates an issue of morale. Working side by side, one would expect equal pay for equal work. This inequity must be corrected."

"Because of the pay issues associated specific with California, it is estimated that about $25 million could have been saved on the two Complexes if federal employees could have staffed the entire incident."

Casey

2/9 Harbour Meeting and CAL FIRE Protection

I've heard that GB is working on the numbers for this meeting which, if you replace engine for engine, 5-0 staffing, 7 days a week, chief for chief, prevention tech for prevention tech, dozer for dozer, etc for etc, the costs are off the charts. I heard IHCs are off the table, they would be reinforcements for CAL FIRE and national support. Even if feds get portal to portal, the cost for CAL FIRE protection would still be off the charts, especially if you match resource for resource.

If you don't replace in kind, National Forests will see even more large fire events, more large fire costs due to fewer IA successes. The other reason they will never allow for farming out National Forest DPA is because they want to continue to expand appropriate management response (AMR) across NF landscapes. Don't think CAL FIRE has too many FEMOs walking around. Even though I have a high amount of respect for CAL FIRE and I'm 100% satisfied with the protection they provide for the SAR just across the street from my house, Even though we currently protect each other's land right now with the "balance of acres", I don't think NF land protection is a good fit and it will never happen on a scale of that magnitude.

High lonesome, thanks for staying positive, touchy subject, thanks for the support. Fed fire costs are higher due primarily to complexity, duration and because we have a tendency to order every aircraft available this side of New Jersey when we get a wildfire. We also pay a heap of money for the great support we get from local, county and CAL FIRE. They don't have too many off ramps and highways in the Ventana Wilderness to anchor from.

ms

PS - I know the last thing you want to use is your ag learn password, however has anyone been to Harbours blog? Any info to share?

Harbour = NO Confidence

IA=Initial Attack; NF=National Forest
DPA=Designated Protection Area
FEMOs=Fire Effects Monitors
Wildland Fire ACRONYMS for more description of the different kinds of DPA, etc

2/9 FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 02/08/2008
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Hazard Tree and Tree Felling website

The NWCG – Safety and Health Working Team (SHWT) is pleased to
announce the launching of a new website. The purpose of the Hazard Tree
and Tree Felling website is to help firefighters manage and mitigate this
recognized high risk threat to safety in the wildland fire environment. The
website will provide a centralized consistent emphasis on high risk activities,
programs, and issues involving hazard trees and tree felling to meet the
safety needs of the agencies and firefighters. The website includes
ongoing information, education, and recommendations on the important roles
that leadership, supervisors, sawyers, and individual employees have in
managing and mitigating tree hazards.

The website is available at www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/httf/.

If you have any questions, please contact your agency representative on SHWT.

Michelle Ryerson, Chair
BLM Safety Manager, OF&A
BLM–NIFC
2/9 High Lonesome,

I agree Cal Fire is usually very quick and efficient in the suppression of fires on private (usually) land, however, we are not at all sure they could remain so when dealing with a ripper, or creeper for that matter, fire in the Trinity Alps Wilderness or the Marbles for instance. Me thinks the strategic learning curve for wilderness fires (i.e. no dozers, the logistics of the mates, and all the Fed. land mgmt. policy that will stay with Wilderness areas no matter who fights the fire) will be steeper than you think. The 7 day Cal Fire fire which you allude to might just become the 70 day Wilderness fire the Forest Service is used to.

The bottom line I think, is that the two fire shops are the same but different, the Forest Service still is a land mgmt. agency and its fire program follows suit, while Cal Fire has moved further into the all risk realm where wildlandfire and the management of fire for resource benefit are smaller parts of the mission. I think Cal Fire could, in the end do a respectable job fighting Forest Service fires without Forest Service Fire, but I don't know if they would be any quicker.

007

2/9 AB,
I was just wondering if you received any pictures or information from
Marc Mullenix's memorial service on the 6th. I can only imagine that
attendance was vast! I was sorry to not be able to attend.

Thank you, Shawna, for being so brave and strong to share your poem
with us. You, your family and Marc are forever in our hearts.

firepup21

No pictures, at least not yet. Ab.

2/9 My Thanks to All

Dear Ab

I just wanted to say "Thank You" to everybody who has been visiting,
calling, emailing and sending cards since my husband's passing. This has
been a very difficult situation for me to comprehend and I appreciate all
the support from the fire community.

Many people have asked about the poem I read at the services. I wrote this
poem after working at 9/11.

Never Forget

I enter the subway at 42nd Street
Nobody speaks in this Tunnel of Heat
Only the conductor, which sounds foreign to me
I stare at my boots and try not to Think

I escape this train at Chambers’ Street
The smells' hit me first
In the Air It Lurks
It Invades my Pores, my Senses and More.
This Smoke is filled with Horror

Hardhat, ID, Past Security.....No Fear
Not many women working Here
It's mostly Cranes, Iron Workers and Engineers
So Lifelike, Dinosaurs almost Appear
Digging, Pulling and Wrenching our Tears

I Breathe the Chemicals; I Walk in the Ashes.
I Hear the Stories; I Feel the Pain.
It's like a Nightmare that won't restrain.

Erased from the Living, Transform the Blaring
The Smell of Misery, It's All History.

I stare at my boots and try not to Think.

@ Shawna Legarza 2001

Shawna, thanks for sharing that. You know Marc was so loved, appreciated and respected by all, even those of us who only knew him via emails and posts. A firefighter's firefighter. A public servant. His life made a huge difference for many people. We each could wish for the same. You know, we're all family. Our love to you. If you need anything, you've only got to say. Ab.

2/9 Hi to all:

There has been some concerns raised about an expected meeting with the Forest Service FAM Director Tom Harbour and Cal-Fire and what the topic will be. There is a concern that the FS, based upon its ineptitude in managing the FIRE program in California is hoping to use some congressional guidance (included in a House Appropriations report) to turn over FIRE management on up to 12 National Forests to state & local agencies. The concept is called "cross-boundary." (I have attached a copy of the FS letter)

While the recently passed Omnibus bill "de-funded" outsourcing for the FS, it is believed that cooperative agreements could be used to enter into such an arrangement.

The obvious problem with this is that while wildfire suppression costs are already needlessly sky-high as a result of FS policy, turning over such Fire management to state & local agencies, especially in CA would be astronomically expensive.

If this in fact is a concerted effort by the Forest Service, then it may in fact bode well for the options of taking the line officers out of the FIRE management program or, in the alternative taking FIRE away from all of the land management agencies and creating a separate and distinct federal wildland fire agency (hopefully minus the problems associated with FEMA & Homeland Security).

Congress has been apprised of the situation and I will be in DC March 3-5 to attend Senate hearings on the FS retention proposal. Meetings will be held with key CA congressional members about this plan and Sen. Feinstein's office has already been provided information.

I would like to stay optimistic that this "secret" meeting is for something less adverse but with the silence from the Agency it is best to be prepared.

Should this be the "sign" for those sitting on the fence about leaving the federal system to go to other Agencies? No. I am confident that our firefighters have the support of the public, press & politicians and that some semblance of intelligence will emerge from the Agency sooner rather than later. Most importantly, the feedback I have received from Congress on both sides of the aisle is that there is NO support for turning FIRE management on ANY National Forest to any non-federal agency.

There may be a battle but we're prepared to ensure our federal wildland firefighters remain the most effective & efficient wildland firefighters in the world.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/9 Direction of the NEW Forest Service and direction of FIRE:

From where I stand the following seems clear to me, although this is mostly speculation:

  • Forest Service Line Officer and Administrator Policy is being rewritten via the FSM rewrite.
  • The purpose is to put interface and structure fire, medical aids, and all but fuels management "back in the box"; to define that those functions are not not part of the FS mission/vision and that suppression and its cost cannot be part of the FS budget, especially in places where fire burns hottest and cost is greatest to the FS, like in SoCal.
  • NIMO Teams may stay with the FS or be given to DHS. What if we had a number of those in CA and a number of hotshot crews but they were under centralized fire, DHS or increasingly stovepiped within the FS as NIMO teams are now? (And after this generation of NIMO retires, where do we get new candidates of firefighting, an "immediate art" that takes years to acquire to fight fire safely?)
  • Being explored is whether interface fire duties can be given to other fire entities in CA along with the $$ for doing that. Just think, if CalFire and the Contract Counties were the only "fire departments" in the state? What if NIMO only got called in during a large firestorm threatening interface or other large all-risk, non-fire assignment.
  • If FS policy makers can figure this out now and get agreement for CA, they can figure it out for the other interface cities with large fire threat next (as with with trailers on govt land). If they can begin to set the new slimmed-down FS fire trajectory, they can approach Congress and the new President after the November elections. They can present their vision of a new Forest Service with refocused mission and vision and a clarity of cash flow.
  • Simultaneously, FSM policy is being written on lights and sirens, and probably for many other areas relating to fire. Interim Directives will give away the plan there: some changes may wait until the change in Congressional and Presidential administration.
  • It's going to get way uglier before it gets better if FIRE resists.
  • Follow the FSM policy changes; follow the messages from Regional Foresters and Forest Supervisors; ask yourself about the $$, its impact on the FS budget, and the costs of suppression to the FS. All of us know that needs to get straightened out.

In my opinion, the FS people involved in this change are doing the best they can under the circumstances with what they know and the "lenses they see the world through".

  • In the early days of the Forest Service, "TIMBER was King". The FS system has been fairly unchanged for 100 years; originally its doctrine was based on timber primacy, sustained yield, the long run, and absolute standards. Places like Humboldt State University trained our foresters and did a great job given the deeply held doctrine of the times.
  • Firefighting originally was "Suppression at any cost and by 10 AM the next day". Tragedies occurred, but there was little record of fatalities and accidents. Experience was key to survival. Most foresters were also firefighters, as were the timber company barons of the time. There was an integrity of form and function.

We no longer live in that world. Timber in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s morphed into many other "ologies" to protect the wild lands for future generations and none of them finances fire or even their own programs, as timber once did. Fire suppression and fire for resource management have and are changing as Public expectations change. 95% of our citizens live in cities or on the interface. For a large percentage, what they know of Wilderness or Wild and Scenic or Late Successional Reserve is what they see on TV. The Public's expectations of the FS has also changed as FIRE has become a larger part of what the FS is perceived to do. Fire tragedies are almost instantly known and the FS has to jump through hoops. From the FS perspective FIRE has become "the uncontrollable 12,000 pound elephant in the woods, but mostly on the interface" whether in regard to tragedy or finance.

In my opinion, the FS is looking for the way to trim down, refocus more on resource management, to give FIRE fighting away if it can't be easily managed for resource management alone. They don't care that giving fire suppression away will cost our country more. They only care that it will not be their expense or headache any longer. Perhaps they feel that a re-focused mission and vision will let them ask for what resource management really needs, they can budget that and be accountable. Change is necessary for survival.

We're in the midst of major change. Transition often feels uncomfortable and uncertain. As Q once said, "The future is determined by those who 'show up', let their voices be heard, and participate in seeking solutions."

I know a number of you professional firefighters are doing what you can to influence that future. It's your responsibility to assume the mantle of leadership for FIRE. Change has always come about from the ground up in FIRE. We need management of our forests and other wildlands for future generations. We also need firefighting on the forests, grasslands, and also on our wildland/urban interface. How that firefighting is done should be determined by FIRE PROFESSIONALS who know the "immediate risk management art" that firefighting is.

The Future is not written yet.

If I can borrow from Ab and others...
"Carry on..."

Mellie

2/9 NonameFire,

Your comment "Two, the cost of fire suppression would go through the roof by letting it go to Cal Fire." makes me wonder a bit.

First, if the Forest Service ever receives higher pay, portal to portal, recognition as FFs, etc. (all rightly deserved) won't USFS fire suppression costs start approaching the roof if not go through it?

Second, I think suppression would actually be less in the long run with Cal Fire. Forest Service fires tend to go big and stay big and take longer to suppress. Cal Fire may spend more money per resource, but the fires are of shorter duration. I'm just looking at it from a simple stand point; if a Type 1 IMT costs roughly a million dollars a day, a 7 day fire is a helluva lot cheaper than a 27 day fire.

I realize this will stir the nest although that is not my intent. The USFS is going through some very trying times and I agree the "lack-of-management" is being reactive as opposed to proactive. The USFS is needed here in R5 as well as the rest of the Nation. Cal Fire is not the solution nor is it to be blamed for R5's troubled times.

High Lonesome

2/9 I wonder if many of the land managers actually understand the long standing ties between the military and Forest Service mission and the synergy that has been going on for over 70 years?

There could be a complete book written on it.

I'll just hit the basics....

The USFS (firefighters) trained the initial cadre of US Army Rangers who would lead the program forward to what it is today. Those initial instructors were the pioneers of the smokejumper and hotshot programs of the USFS, and the special forces programs of the US military. Some of those firefighters were vets, some were conscientous objectors, and some were just folks who had good ideas.

Often times, such as during WW II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.... the synergy was blurred.

The military programs that often are attributed to the basis of doctrine actually went full circle. Those programs came from social science.

Doctrine and technology development is nothing new.

The synergy of whether someone was a leader, follower, or manager is something that will always be debated....

Whether the lessons of the past are in question. Everything is dynamic... A lesson often forgotten.

Gizmo
2/9 NonameFire posted a bulletin on " They Said " concerning a meeting about the FS and Calfire meeting to discuss the possibility of Calfire taking over 12 forests. I was curious on two items that will effect allot of firefighters on both sides.
  • What forests are on the table and
  • will they keep the BC's, Patrols and firefighters and the green engines or will the forest be swarming red?

I believe these items if known should be posted... I hate to see my brothers in green lose their jobs.

WH

2/9 NonameFire,

I wouldn't doubt it. Outsourcing that is allowed to occur outside of the A-76 process is nothing new. Primarily, it relies on either cooperative agreements or contracts to perform the work without the A-76 process being applied.

As far as the "12 forest" thing, sounds like it is dead on arrival.... A common term on ideas that are placed before Congressional Oversight and put in the spotlight.

P.S. - midwest afmo... great to see your numbers added up to ours. Pay in the current system is based upon duties, knowledge, skills, abilities, and cost of living. I can't figure why a secretary in the WO gets GS-11 wages while one on the Forests gets GS-7 wages? What is often overlooked is the risks and sacrifices.

Take a short subway ride outside of DC (where most employees live) and you'll still see folks struggling to live on Forest Service wages even though they are being forced to live in the "hood". Most of those folks are commuters from the WO... go figure.

Lobotomy

2/9 RE: CAL FIRE and Forest Fire Protection

Hmmm... an Emergency Response Agency that KNOWS its mission protecting
the National Forest's (taxpayers) resources....

A clear cut MOU, letter of delegation or contract instead of each DR interpreting
policy and "doctrine"....

Definitely food for thought.....
--
yactak

DR = District Ranger

2/9 If this is true about Harbour coming for a hush hush meeting with CAL FIRE and not telling the rank and file about this, then he is a traitor to our profession. He must go, his tenure must end. Harbour and his Rumsfieldian vision of a lean Mobil firefighting force. Even though Boxer and Feinstein represent the state, NO way would they allow this to happen on federal land. By the time these two women got done with him, he would be gainfully re-employed inspecting fire extinguishers at a mall somewhere east of Salt Lake. .

HARBOUR = NO CONFIDENCE
2/9 "Why what happened on the LP with the modular/trailer pad housing issue can and probably will affect anyone on a gov pad"

Casey, thanks for jumping on this. Sounds like Elton better sharpen the pencil because this is huge for those living in a modular/trailer they own on a gov pad. I hope everyone understands the national "scope" of what happened with the LP housing policy this week and why it can/will effect you, even if your as far away as Maine working for the USFWS living in your modular on a gov pad. Casey, your correct the policy was bargained locally, however the effects will go beyond the borders of the LP. It must, because Office of General Council is involved.

First the issue of living in a Forest Service house capped at 5 years. This was a local decision, yes bargained locally and will not reach beyond the LP unless another Forest wants to use the same plan. Although 5 years comes quick, it's probably not a bad idea. Most employees are going up in GS grade and can afford something else after 5 years and in some cases have already purchased something. A common sense rotation will help lower-paid employees have better housing options. That is if LP management makes good decisions on who gets the house, and that's a big IF with LP Management. Again this relates to living/renting in a wood-framed gov house. This policy would not work in more rural areas where rentals are not available.

NOW the modular/trailer issue. The Union probably was presented a "decision/opinion" by OGC on the sale or transaction question LP management asked OGC to answer. The Union probably had nothing to do with this aspect of the policy. It was the opinion of OGC that an employee paying space rent for a pad cannot have a transaction (ie sell the module/trailer) while on the gov compound. It must be disassembled and taken off of gov property, sold, then it can return to the pad if management agrees. Now is that the most absurd thing you have ever heard? We're talking LP management here, so probably not. Do you know how impractical and expensive this OGC decision is? Some of these employees in modules have signed loan agreements with a bank, which the bank in turn required a Line Officer signature on the loan document stating they can stay as long as they're employed. Making them move a modular after 5 years or when the employee wants to sell the modular will seriously decrease the modular value and probably lead employees to eventually not even using the pads in the future. Selling the modular just becomes impractical.

Why is what happened on the LP important to you, if you currently live and own a modular in a gov pad, regardless of the fed agency your with? Do you really think the employees affected by this OGC opinion on the LP, who are making a lot of noise right now (and rightfully so), should be the only ones affected by this OGC opinion? I don't think so. RF or Chief letter is coming soon I bet on this one, because the LP is doing as instructed by an OGC Attorney. I also heard after the meeting the Forest called OGC back to double check the OGC ruling after the Forest Supervisor saw the reaction from the young mothers holding newborn kids, new families to the area and those who just spent thousands on a new modular. If you own a modular on a gov pad, you just lost a lot of resell value and gained more headaches.

What a mess. Since the WO is going to talk with Congress about portal to portal for the next two freaking years, they might as well throw this issue into the retention package and let them chew on this for a couple years as well.

Like I said, tell Elton to sharpen the pencil on this one.

ms
2/9 i find it hard to swallow that the regional forester would put something
on they said about the meeting with the chief but yet nothing came
through lotus.

have some balls and post it on lotus cause not everyone reads they said

AV

Everyone should read theysaid. I'm told "It's the place to go if you want to know." I wouldn't call us "immediate art" but I do think we're pretty dam* fast. Maybe your forest supervisor is slooooooooooow or doesn't know... Yesterday at 1400 hours the Forester's it was sent to pdl r5 rlt@FSNOTES and pdl r5 fs staff@FSNOTES and was then sent out by forest supervisors who sent it to firefighters and others. We got it from 3 firefighters at about 1600 hours. Ab.

2/9 Anyone else out there that feels that Randy Moore's letter was just
another example of placating to the pressure, rather than correcting
and offering heartfelt suggestions for correction?

JMHO
2/8 A couple of months ago I posted a heads up that retired firefighters can now exclude from their taxable income the amount of their health insurance premiums. (www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=2124) At the time I posted it, the IRS had not yet said exactly how to do it.

The instructions can be found in IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, on pages 5 and 6. under the header "Insurance Premiums for Retired Public Safety Officers". If you do this, the premiums cannot be used as an itemized deduction, but most people will be better off with the exclusion.

The IRS publication can be downloaded here:

www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p575.pdf

Gordon

2/8 Nice one on Doctrine, Misery Whip!

Mellie

2/8 R5 fire, many may not be aware of the upcoming meeting between Tom Harbour and Cal Fire. It's a hush-hush meeting to discuss a pilot program that would involve giving 12 R5 forests to Cal Fire for fire protection. This meeting is well known among the upper ranks (RO and WO). A couple of things come to mind with this.
  • One, the FS is scrambling to alleviate the pressure from Feinstein's office and others on capital hill so they are looking for any possible solution.
  • Two, the cost of fire suppression would go through the roof by letting it go to Cal Fire.

Does the Serco situation ring a bell with cost efficiency? From what I understand no one on capital hill is in favor of such an option but it just goes to show that once again the USFS is being re-active instead of pro-active.

NonameFire

2/8 All,

I’ll give Doctrine a shot, though I think there are plenty of others out there who could say it better.

One piece of Doctrine is the attempt to re-establish a just culture in a wildland fire culture that has become rule-bound and litigation shy over the past couple of decades. A part of Doctrine is establishing that “bright line” which can’t be crossed. The current re-write of the FSM and other agency policy documents is intended to re-anchor the agency by identifying “bright line” policy in addition to those areas in which discretion is allowed. Re-education of employees will have to be part of this piece.

Another piece of Doctrine is acknowledging the massive body of hard science that now exists on human behavior and high-performing organizations. It is rapidly becoming unacceptable to scapegoat employees at the sharp end of the spear for organizational failures. Behavioral scientist Dr. James Reason’s theories on latent failures, active failures, just culture and learning culture are now being used as working models for organizations like ours that regularly perform complex and high risk activities in uncontrolled environments.

Among other things, PL 107-203 will have to be revised or eliminated before the Forest Service can even think about developing a just culture. The military concept of granting privilege to accident participants is now gaining favor in some circles as a possible partial solution to our present fear of litigation and investigations.

High Reliability Organizing builds on behavioral science to demonstrate how organizations can benefit from using behavioral science, and the hard lessons learned by occupations that routinely face risk, to craft organizations that are adept at detecting and mitigating risks. HROs build mechanisms that allow the organization to see and hear weak signals that events are not unfolding as expected, and to react to and mitigate “minor” problems before they combine with other “minor” problems to become major problems. We don’t do that very well yet as an agency.

Leadership is another important chunk of doctrine. As long as we are led by people who don’t understand and embrace Doctrine, HROs, etc, we will have a hard time getting Doctrine off the ground. It is impossible to accept our leaders preaching to us about standing up and doing the right thing while they allow our firefighters to be mistreated and abused by uncaring middle managers, or to be hung out to dry in an investigation. Getting the anti-fire people out of the supervisory loop will have to be another piece of the Doctrine puzzle.

At the root of all this is culture. The current science on this is undeniably clear; in high-risk occupations, culture and safety are inextricably linked. In an organization like ours, if you have a high functioning culture, you will have fewer accidents than you would with a fragmented and dysfunctional culture. Behavioral science now provides us with the tools to improve our culture. Doctrine is one of the tools that will help us get there.

Misery Whip
2/8 Coming from multiple sources, round robin on the FS web

Firefighter Recruitment and Retention:

On January 30th, I briefed Chief Kimbell and her staff on my
recommendations for a firefighter recruitment and retention strategy for
Region 5. Based on the briefing and discussion that followed, the Chief
and her staff agreed that the Forest Service needs to address the two
primary issues we brought forward: clarity of the agency fire mission and
firefighter pay. There is acknowledgement that mission clarity is an
agency issue that is appropriate to resolve Agency-wide. Likewise, pay has
national impact and any solution must be considered nationally. Solutions
to both issues will require working with our Federal partners.

The Region and the Washington Office will continue to work together to
refine our proposal that will be presented to the House and Senate
Appropriation Committees later this month. The work the Region has
completed will be incorporated as the foundation for the Chief’s plan for
the agency.

In addition, there are solutions the Region will act on to address
secondary issues related to work environment and leadership that we will be
moving forward with. Many of the solutions are already in place, but not
fully utilized.

As we continue to address this significant issue, I will keep you informed.

Randy

Randy Moore
Regional Forester, R5

2/8 LPF Housing Issue

For those on the LPF and others interested, just a few points on the housing policy.

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-CA) called me Tuesday morning to discuss this and other issues relative to the Forest Service fire program as a whole and issues specific to the firefighters on the LP. Later in the day his Legislative Director called me and we discussed some things in finer detail.

First and foremost, we must not lose sight of the fact that the new housing policy on the LPF is a negotiated agreement... at least negotiated as best as federal law allows. In this particular issue and many others, the limit to which the recognized bargaining unit representative (NFFE) can "negotiate" such a management proposal is known as "impact & implementation." The scope of federal bargaining is woefully archaic as compared to that of state & local employees.

Since the policy was "negotiated" by the recognized bargaining unit representative, there are limited avenues that can be taken to address the continued frustration on the part of those affected by the policy.

For example, given the fact that non-bargaining unit employees are impacted, laws & regulations have been cited etc., what can be done must be done in a manner that does not "step on the toes" of NFFE pursuant to exercising its rights under Title 5 of the United States Code to negotiate the "impact & implementation" of this policy.

That being said...

As a former firefighter union president, past Executive Board member of the California Professional Firefighters and former Labor Relations Representative for the California State Employees Association (CSEA) there are some troubling aspects of the policy that deserve the attention of others.

The timing of the original proposal by then Acting Forest Supervisor Ken Heffner, during the height of the Zaca incident when his firefighters were busting their butts on the fire, is at best cruel and insensitive.

So too is his lack of communication about developing the policy while knowing that employees who would be adversely impacted by the policy were buying trailers, mobile homes etc., not knowing of the financial impact this policy would have on them.

The apparent thought by management that creating a policy to "entice" employees to come to the LP at the expense of the retention of those already having displayed some semblance of loyalty to the Forest defies even basic principles of logic.

The fact that these same managers knowingly and willingly allowed the sale of homes, a policy which they are now attempting to change dramatically gives rise to the thought that the Forest might be culpable for damages and certainly the concept of "past practice" should be reviewed.

The point is this: The FWFSA is securing data from its members on the LPF inclusive of those impacted by this policy. It is clear that Congressman Gallegly is keenly interested in the impact of such a policy on "his" firefighters.

There will be some communications certainly behind the scenes to determine what, if anything can be done to address the remaining concerns of those impacted. We all acknowledge "management's rights" and the facts that few would likely live in Gov't housing forever let alone expect it to be provided to them. However, there are some insidious elements about this plan and its potential to be Agency-wide that I believe deserve to be looked at. Especially if Congress has put the onus on the Forest Service to explain what it is doing to retain its firefighters. This policy simply doesn't seem to consider the concept of retention.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/8 Touchback to Lights and Sirens use being the responsibility of the Forest Supervisor
or other admin as suggested by the FSM 5120 or 5130 Interim Directive.

From the Fire Management Today article by Ed Hollenshead.

Policy is the body of rules that guide the objective parts of a mission.
Policy serves as the structure to put doctrinal principles into action.

From the Fire Suppression Foundational Document ~Ed Hollenshead

“Rules are those decisions you would not leave to the discretion of
your best fire fighter.

I would like to understand policy/rules of forest admin in the context of lights and sirens.

Don't firefighters know best when conditions are safe and need dictates that lights and
sirens get used? Why not train professional firefighters to the standard and let them do
their best? (Maybe this will be clearer when the Final Directive on lights and sirens
comes out.)

Mellie

2/8 Re Burro's thread....

MAYBE Doctrine and Principles can be interjected somewhere in the diagram on page 13 of this quarters Fire Management Today...

See all those aspects of potential significance?? TRY to jam Doctrine and Principles into that "mess" of a diagram.....

Because Doctrine and Principle can be derived from some or all of those aspects...........

NOW will personnel with forestry degrees, fire management degrees, aviation degrees be able to participate or is this going to be a closed door "Forest Service only"  type of operation????   Any inputs from the States?  VFDs??
 
Or is going to be some kind of soup sandwich like the current IFPM 2009 deal where some of us already have forestry degrees and still may have to go back to "mandated school"
 
With all the current issues running around and fire season 2008 is right around the corner.  The only Current Doctrine and Principle should be
 
An open mind to the 10's and 18's
LCES
SA

We already have some great Doctrine and Principles from the military which the FS is STILL trying to be.....
Great authors like Pyne, Mangan, ALLLLLL the Hugh Carsons, Walt Darrans, Jim Barnes of the Aerial world have put together various form of Doctrines and Principle that the FS has yet to pick up on

But if the FS HAS to reinvent the wheel and produce a NEW Doctrine and Principle handbook / Training sessions etc there's plenty of timber out there that has burned and not to the core of the bole, to produce a new document.

Please use some COMMON SENSE when developing the so called Doctrine and Principles...... there is plenty of material to plagiarize upon,

Make it so EVERY line firefighter is part of it NOT just some GS12 out there satisfying their masters or PhD program... you know that is going to happen already, to have some funding string pay for someone's thesis.........

LL

? ALLLLLL the Hugh Carsons - Multiple personalities? (Hugh, tongue firmly in cheek.) Ab.

2/8 Doctrine and Policy:

I did some more searching and found this 2 page piece from Fire
Management Today
Volume 66 No. 2, Spring 2006. Does this
shed any light?

Why We Need Doctrine Now (84 K pdf file)

Check the Two Key Terms box that describes Doctrine and Policy.

NorCal Tom

2/8 Ab,

If Doctrine is the future, who in the field actually knows what it is?
More importantly who is training new firefighters in Doctrine, and what
does that training look like? I’m sincerely curious. It is a pretty
ambiguous concept to me at this point as all I see is more prescriptive
policy at every level. There hasn’t been some watershed Doctrinal change
in how we are doing business that I can see. Please correct me if I'm
missing the boat, but if an HRO focuses on operations, where is Doctrine
at the operational level? Policy papers and theory are one thing, but we
have to start using Doctrine in the field somewhere. If someone is teaching
Doctrine, I would like to hear how "professional judgment" works with the
myriad (and often conflicting) local, regional and national policies many
people don't even know exactly. Please enlighten me to any Doctrine
success stories.

Burro

HRO = High Reliability Organization

2/8 Doctrine, Principles and how they are interrelated:

I had to go back and search for something I posted a number of years ago (3/18/05) that was from '04. I wish it were a bit more clear speak (example concentricity??? promulgation=formal proclamation or operation), but perhaps the topic is hard to describe.

Let me toss the following in the Doctrine discussion mix. Wouldn't we all like to understand what DOCTRINE means? What are the rules for line officers, the rules for wildland firefighters? Where systemic latent fire safety problems in the FS come from, etc?

NorCal Tom

PS. Ab, Please add link to this longer 2005 document: Fire Suppression, Foundational Doctrine from the Pulaski Conference.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

USDA Forest Service
National Fire Operations Safety
Information Briefing Paper
Date: June 1, 2004

Topic: Agency Mission, Intent Expressed in Policy, Public and Management Expectations, and the Reality of Fire Suppression Management on the Ground.

Background: An outcome of the South Canyon and Thirtymile fire tragedies has been the promulgation of prescriptive policies intended to address shortcomings in fireline decision-making, leadership, and fire operations oversight. The unintended consequence of these policies, as expressed by incident management and fire operations personnel, is the creation of an untenable disparity between agency and public expectations, expressions of "acceptable risk", and the realities of fire operations necessary to meet incident-specific issues. Nowhere was this more evident than during the Southern California fire siege, November 2003. Following are key points of discussion resulting from a "Safety Protocol Review" of the Old and Cedar fires, and may be understood as applicable across the wildland fire management spectrum in the United States today.

Key Points:

  • " Having to focus on meeting the letter of prescriptive policy rather than a clearly stated intent creates a distraction, palpable tension, and excessive workload for incident managers. Firefighters and fireline supervisors are expected to exercise initiative and to perform according to the fundamentals of safe operating practices, but the myriad of check-lists, protocols, and prescriptive policies are interfering with their situational awareness, command effectiveness, are confusing, and take away from focusing on meeting the challenges at hand.
  • " In order to accomplish the mission, meet agency and public expectations, and provide for safe and effective suppression operations, conscious decisions are having to be made by incident managers to violate policies even though there is close attention being consistently paid to implementing their intent. Incident managers are feeling vulnerable and unsupported by agency leadership.
  • " Firefighters do not knowingly "break" or "bend" the Standard Fire Orders, nor do they ignore mitigation of the 18 Watchout Situations. In every case we examined they were focused intently on these core values. However, we have created an environment where deviation from the letter of policy is described as lack of adherence or a violation of firefighting fundamentals. It is simply not true.
  • " Adherence to or deviation from prescriptive policy is the current measure against which actions are evaluated when something goes wrong. While easier for management (and OSHA) to "evaluate" performance or define "quality" or assign a "violation" in this way, it is not effective in measuring true performance or effectiveness, or deviation from principles of safe and effective firefighting. It is in fact counterproductive, as prescriptive policy begets more prescriptive policy. We have seen the phenomenon and are laded with its burden."

Conclusions: The organization is by and large behaving and operating in a safe manner, and is generally effective in meeting agency and public expectations. Prescriptive policies are forcing fire leadership to take the risk of violating them in order to complete the mission and meet agency expectations. Further, these policies divert critical attention and energy from accomplishing incident objectives in a safe and efficient manner. The disconnect is between agency expectations and the expression of those expectations through prescriptive policies, policies which are used as a measure of performance when an undesirable consequence occurs. To improve firefighter safety and performance, and to ensure continual reduction in firefighter accidents and injuries we need to implement and rely on a doctrine founded on three critical components:

  1. Leadership, through policy, must express operational intent which defines acceptable risk and the decision-space available to the field commander and fireline supervisor to meet it. We must improve the ability of leadership to construct and promulgate clear intent, and resist the tendency to do so in a manner so finite as to constrain creative initiative in the field.
  2. The reality on the ground requires fireline leadership to exercise initiative in meeting agency and public expectations within the confines of a broad, yet sufficiently specific and focused intent relating to performance expectations and firefighter safety, and that the individual recognizes and accepts responsibility for his/her own safety and performance. We must improve the ability of leadership to expect and require those closest to the point of friction to exercise prudent initiative in meeting that intent.
  3. Fireline leadership must understand and accept their responsibility to exercise concentric * initiative to accomplish that intent. The willingness and ability of lower-level leadership to do so in a concentric * manner is the true measure of the quality of operational safety and performance.

    * Concentricity describes those actions that reflect the core values of the organization. Fireline leadership decisions that disregard the requirement to manage firefighter fatigue in favor of sustained operations would not be deemed concentric. However, if work-rest ratios and duty-day limitations are "violated" yet fatigue countermeasures have been designed, are in place, and are functioning as designed in view of the mission at hand, concentricity is achieved.

Finally: The agency must create an environment in which prudent initiative, concentric with "commanders intent" regarding safe and effective operational practices is not only expected, it is required. This is not a comfortable doctrine, it is in fact counter to "normal" bureaucratic thinking. It is not an easy doctrine to simply "create"; it will require a retooling of our skills-based and human performance training, a change in managerial principles, and an evolution in the definitions of success and failure. But it is a doctrine that, when fully implemented, better responds to the high-risk / high-consequence mission, improves the focus and attention of fireline leadership, results in higher performing and safer firefighters willing to be accountable for their decisions and actions, and allows the agency to reclaim it's responsibility and authority to perform its mission.

Contact: Ed Hollenshead, ehollenshead @ fs.fed.us

2/8 Gotta say it...with all these empty promises and missed deadlines, and generally low morale issues with people who sacrifice so much to be a part of this agency, some of these trade and vocational colleges are looking better and better. Some are pretty spendy, but with a multitude of financial aid programs available, it actually is seems pretty doable. Even some of you 2-3 year apprentices have some quals and experience that would knock an interviewer on his a$s. There very well may be other companies, jobs and employers that would welcome people like us with open arms. Just some food for thought to some of the truly unhappy folks that really want a change. This all kinda got sparked from that military recruiting commercial where the guys says "When an interviewer asks you if you've ever had any leadership experience....try not to smile."

Good luck to everyone on this site that is battling the personal demons of what to do with their lives. Being unhappy is the worst feeling in the world, especially when it comes to your professional lives. Everyone wants to be paid what they are worth, and for a LONG time this agency has blown it. Enough is enough for me.

anonymous

Good luck to you too. Please don't be a stranger here. Ab.

2/8 Mid West AFMO,

The reality in California is that the situation has been building for a long time. It started in the regional office when they use to loosely distribute the budget on past years events and never really did a true cost accounting of what it really takes to run the program. We then got more efficient with our technologies and a better reporting was established.

Unfortunately, not all forests do a great job at requesting their actual needs of costs and request a budget that reflects the averages of the past. They seem to make it by playing the P Code offset game. Most forests are actually deficit before their budgets are delivered and then personnel are told to NOT deficit spend.

While our super 10 year strategic plan for healthy fuels initiatives denotes a model that says production should go up because of repeat frequency of the task, the cost should go down because people are better at it now (Obvious Think Tank Equation).

To compound the ongoing downward spiral in the region, we get (come and go) managers who rarely have intentions of staying to long (retirement or promotion) and do far more damage than good due to lack of either knowledge (or care) of the investments established in the community (sounds like maybe the Los Padres and other Southern Forests).

Not every forest employee wants to move away from their families to other places every couple of years, they may have kids in school, close community ties and are struggling to survive their economy in their community with their poor government wage.

To me it seems the FWFSA is intelligently fighting the good fight and asking reasonable questions that typically and rarely get answered with real substance.

California is a wildfire training ground, it provides incredible access to difficult to gain experience in the industry. Not everyone in our agency can pull of what these guys do everyday and unfortunately their reward is to get off of work and deal with what their regional and W.O. managers shovel to them which is typically a poor budget with little support of their well-being.

Better pay leads to better retention of quality employees (Duh!). If you don't even make enough to survive in Government Housing then what's the incentive to stay? There is probably a safety gap of experience in there on the line at this point.

Why not have a full time workforce with a steady budget at the field level that pays a decent wage? I see the pay scale and I could live like a king in Alabama on what a GS 7 makes but it appears to not go far in CA nor does there seem to be a tremendous fire occurrence in AL that would require a similar firefighting workforce (No Offence to AL, I love it there, it's just an example).

I feel for these guys in California. I don't know how they do it. I pulled up the real-estate costs in So. Cal and then their pay scale and didn't need a calculator to figure out that the Federal Government is failing their employees there. No wonder they leave!

I think it is time to put the "Operational Leadership" section of the Initial Response Pocket Guide in the shirt pocket of the USDA Leadership at all levels and focus on improving our program in all States. P.S. I just heard that a Home Depot Manager can Make a 100K if he / she runs the store well... Is that true?

Signed, Green Pants Blue

2/8 Ab,

BLM, NPS, FWS, and others:

The mobile home policy on the Los Padres will affect All Federal Agencies under the Executive Branch of the Government. How many individuals sign their name saying they have read the Ethics and Conduct Handbook each year?

The ploy by the LPF Management, is to interpret this handbook. Making a profit on Government Lands. This is why the Mobile Home Owners cannot sell their Homes until they remove it off government lands. It is amazing they can make any interpretation when they have allowed the Selling of mobile homes for Fifty Years. The Ethics and Conduct Handbook has been around alot longer. Management failed its employees by not disclosing this information. The owners of new mobile homes had to have their Rangers sign a letter before the mortgage could go through. What mortgage company in its right mind would allow an employee a loan for 5 years on a 60 to 100 thousand dollars without that past pattern?

There are 12 houses and 19 mobile homes on the SBRD-LPF. The majority are fire folks or other fire support individuals from GS- 9 down to apprentice. A lot of the younger employees have already been transferring around to other forests due to knowing they cannot afford a home in the local communities. This makes openings for newer families along with the older retiring. Presently there are six houses available for rent due to the housing policy. You kill off the mobile home park, then you will see the Death of the SBRD.

Better PAY and RETIREMENT lead to more RETENTION and quality of employees.

scapegoat

2/8 To: What the- - - -

I think you are right on with what some line officers would like to see.
(Contract fire out, I think the higher up agency heads want that too.) But
forestry techs (Firefighters) are not uneducated. Many of us have degrees
and advanced degrees and even if we have no degree, we, and you, are all
professional wildland firefighters. Highly trained and skilled and
professional in all we do as we respond with red lights and and siren to
wildland fires, structure fires, vehicle fires, medical aids and other
emergencies that threaten lives and property. Think of all the thousands of
lives and thousands of homes and communities we Forest Service firefighters
have saved and protected over the decades. And yes, we are still going to
protect homes and lives in spite of what some of the rumblings are out
there. It is the morally right thing to do. The public does appreciate us
for that. And they expect us to continue to do that.

Interestingly enough, I read a passage on Gag-Learn just yesterday:

"Trust- Hard to earn, easy to lose. The success of our agencies'
mission relies on the support and trust of the public."

I think that is something the agency leadership needs to print and enlarge
and slap on the wall where they can see it at all times.

Remember, line officers aren't any better or smarter than we are,
especially in fire, though SOME may think so. They still put their pants on
one leg at a time just like we do.

My Suegro used to have a saying en Espanol de Norteno, "Los mas vivos, son
los mas pendejos.
" The ones who think they are the most smart, are the most
stupid.

Battle on Friends,
KJoseph

2/8 Doctrine & Principles:

Todd,

Here are the guiding principles for interface wildland firefighting. Don't have time to reply to the rest of your question without some research and time writing...

Mellie

Wildland Urban Interface Operating Principles

  1. The first priority for all risk-decisions is human survival, both of firefighters and the
    public.
  2. Incident containment strategies specifically address and integrate protection of
    defendable improved property and wildland values.
  3. Direct protection of improved property is undertaken when it is safe to do so, when
    there are sufficient time and appropriate resources available, and when the action
    directly contributes to achieving overall incident objectives.
  4. The firefighter’s decision to accept direction to engage in structure protection actions
    is based on the determination that the property is defendable and the risk to
    firefighters can be safely mitigated under the current or potential fire conditions.
  5. A decision to delay or withdraw from structure protection operations is the
    appropriate course of action when made in consideration of firefighter safety, current
    or potential fire behavior, or defensibility of the structure or groups of structures.
  6. Firefighters at all levels are responsible to make risk-decisions appropriate to their
    individual knowledge, experience, training, and situational awareness.
  7. Every firefighter is responsible to be aware of the factors that affect their judgment
    and the decision-making process, including: a realistic perception of their own
    knowledge, skills, and abilities, the presence of life threat or structures, fire behavior,
    availability of resources, social / political pressures, mission focus, and personal
    distractions such as home, work, health, and fatigue.
  8. An individual’s ability to assimilate all available factors affecting situational
    awareness is limited in a dynamic wildland urban interface fire environment. Every
    firefighter is responsible to understand and recognize these limitations, and to apply
    their experience, training and personal judgment to observe, orient, decide, and act in
    preparation for the “worst case”.
  9. It is the responsibility of every firefighter to participate in the flow of information with
    supervisors, subordinates, and peers. Clear and concise communication is essential to
    overcome limitations in situational awareness.

Here's a diagram of relationship between mission, doctrine, doctrinal principles and policy from 2005. Ab.

2/8 AD firefighters /Professional Liability Insurance (PLI)

Does the fact that AD firefighters can get Professional Liability Insurance
mean we are now likely to get slapped with law suits? Sorry If my question
draws any negativity to me, but I'd rather plan to forestall the negativity
than have it hit me up the side of the head when I'm the Type 3 IC hired by
the forest following a big fire... and something goes south...

Larry, retired, kind of

Ab please add: First Principle for me is Maintain Situational Awareness.

2/8 Re: L.P. Housing Policy

There is a huge difference between recruitment & retention. It seems that this policy focuses on recruitment. It obviously disregards retention and writes a loss of leadership, experience, training, and functionality of the current Fire Staff that now occupy this housing.

This trade-off appears to me to be a numbers game. Line Officers can now boast of their high recruitment numbers of new Forestry Technicians. In the future they can assert that they have found a solution to half of the recruitment and retention problem and are trying to find solutions to the Fire Staff issues.

What about building more Govt. housing for recruitment? If there is such a demand for this housing then why? What about the 10-20 year lag time for these new recruits to reach the functional level of the current fire employees getting the boot? Oh, thats right, they won't reach that level within the 5 years before they themselves get the boot!

Fix the salary issue and provide the means to retain the workforce.

I have heard that some Line Officers would prefer the current fire staff to diminish until it can not function and would then need to outsource or contract to local fire departments. The hypocrisy of this notion makes me sick! Yeah, hire the very professional firefighter that line officers say we are not... to do the same job that we have been doing for a fraction of their pay.

...And the issue in the dark corner of the room: Uneducated Forestry Techs. can not make more than the genius among the rest of the Forest Staff.

What the ----
2/8 Mellie or anyone,

If the FSM contains the guiding Principles or Rules for Line Officers,
what are the guiding Principles or Rules for Wildland Fire Fighters?

Todd

2/8 Hi,

I have been following this board for a long time, or so it seems, and just rarely feel like jumping in the fray. I guess I've reached some sort of saturation point though, because the tone of this board feels so oppressed and negative.

A few years back, I was involved in a fire situation gone bad, and all the stuff that you hear about going funky in an investigation/after action/lessons learned process got funky. My life, along with many others, was forever changed in the process. For a long time, I focused on this and how crappy the whole situation was, and my life started to slowly go down the tubes.

Lucky for me, and I am truly grateful for this, something even more tragic happened in my personal life that woke me up, gave me another perspective. I discovered that by focusing on everything that went wrong, more stuff just kept going wrong.

So... Oprah to the rescue! This book came out last year called "The Secret", which was on Oprah and seems to have a movie too. Yesterday Oprah did another show on it, like a follow-up from a year ago. It's all about the "law of attraction"... here's a link to the show, and you can go through the transcript in 17 screens:

http://www2.oprah.com/tows/pastshows/200802/tows_past_20080206.jhtml?promocode=HP21

Just my inspirational effort to contribute to this group... I would recommend some research in this area, because the discussion on this board lately is dreary and depressing.

Since I've figured out the issues I've had to handle, I've started to avoid reading this board. It's ironic, because for so long I depended on it for news and connectivity to other firefighters. Now, I am trying to focus on positive things and there is a hell of a lot of good stuff going on in fire too... but if we live in fear we'll never see it.

Perhaps all this change, which is rough right now, will bring about a much better organization in a few years. Perhaps the change is occurring because the organization needs it.

Enough of my proselytizing! Just wanted to throw a different perspective in to see if there's any discussion on it. As an old fire friend said, "the only constant is change". We're never going to have the federal fire agencies we used to, because the world isn't the same... good, bad, or indifferent. I guess the choice is what is done with the current options... will it be fear and oppression, or will it be courage and vision?

- Seven Principles
2/8 Hotshot75

The trouble with government housing is basing it on local markets.
It really does little to address the issue of low wages (relative to
high cost of living) and high housing costs.

If the government housing costs $1,300 a month, what kind of
Private housing would you be able to get for the same money?

Trailer pads are a way for the government to do the housing thing
on the cheap. They do not really address the issue either.

The solution is to either provide living wages for the area, or
provide low cost housing to make up for the low wages.

MIdwest FMO
2/8 reply to Hotshot75

Your philosophy sounds good when you spell it out with these computations. But, not everyone wants to live where your Uncle is married to your second cousin. It is not so bad if you only know one individual who did not plan for their future. Not everyone can save enough in their Gov. Job to qualify for a down payment or even make the mortgage payments. If, you are lucky enough to make a 1,000 plus hours of overtime every year for ten years without a wife, dogs, cats, and kids, then you have a chance. As long as you live on rice and beans and get plenty of free meals from fire camp.

The problem in most areas of CA. is the Pay and Retention of employees. I know multiple people who were lucky enough to save and invest into their forties before they could buy into a house in Santa Barbara County. These same people have two family incomes of 160,000 or more. These same people are looking at selling their homes when they retire because their Gov. Retirement for one will only cover the mortgage and they have to live on the other. Even a GS-5 in your neighborhood has a tough time making ends meet.

Forest Service Retirement and Pay, both lead to bad Retention. Gov. housing in some areas are the only way some forests can keep quality employees. You will see a lot of Job openings with the LPF Housing Policy. It goes directly against the Retention of new and old employees. A multiple of folks have already requested transfers, but the forest supervisor shut them down.

Better PAY and RETIREMENT lead to more RETENTION and quality of employees.

Hopefully a Congressional Hearing will take care of the LPF Housing Policy.

scapegoat
2/8 To: Doublewide Pride:

The LPF housing policy sounds unnecessarily restrictive, but let me ask a
question. How many people there have stayed in any one position for five
to seven years? Maybe there are some folks that have, but I've worked for
the feds for over 20 years, and I've been in my current location six years,
the longest stretch I've ever lived in any one place in my career. I
worked on the LP for a decade, and probably lived in one place for about
two years at the longest.

To "ME":

Sounds like the biologist is abusing the housing if he's truly just using
it to party. But my current job requires me to travel a lot, and one unit
I work at provides me housing because it's a three hour drive from my
office to the unit and another hour to the nearest motel. If I didn't have
housing from time to time, I literally could not provide the service to
that unit that I'm paid to provide. Could there be a similar situation
with the biologist?

To Lobotomy:

The 2,424 wicked, evil, horrible Washington DC employees who make 290
million dollars sound like they're making a lot, until you divide it. Those
employees are making about $119,000 a year. A lot, but not in Washington,
DC, and only about 10 per cent of what the lobbyists and politicians make
that they compete with for housing and services. If we need more money, our
coworkers might also, even if they don't have a red card.

midwest afmo
2/8 Are the AD rates for 2008 out? If so
where can I go to look at them?

Thanks,
PJ

2/7 Govt. housing seems like a good idea but think about this.

Say you are "lucky" enough to live in a govt. house for your entire career and pay 1300 a month for
the honor of living in a govt. house. You wind up paying the government $468,000.00. Then when you
retire you have nothing to show for it. And that is if they never raise the rent (how likely is
that?). With inflation you would probably wind up paying closer to $6-700,000 and still have nada
when they kick you out.

You would be better off finding a job in an area where you can still afford to live and buy a home
you can afford and hopefully pay off by the time you retire. There are still a lot of good fire
jobs in other states or more rural parts of CA where you will be in the upper end of the economy
instead of the bottom.

I know one individual that lived in govt. housing his entire career and regretted it when he
retired for the very reasons that I mentioned above.

Hotshot75
2/7 Does anyone know the whereabouts of Mark Sayles (he was my ASGS for several
years when he was on the Toiyabe and I was in Reno). Has he retired? Changed
jobs?? (last I heard he was with DOD fire). One of the all-time greats from
CA-South Zone aviation. Anyways, if you have his contact info, please e-mail
me direct at airops at paonia.com

Hugh Carson
2/7 Someone reminded me that some people can't log onto youtube. Ken Perry, Melissa, Vicki, Lori, the Brinkleys, the Ramas, Mike Apicello, others. Great to see them in person. Here's an alternative for watching the WFF video (5min 41 sec):

http://flashovertv.firerescue1.com/Clip.aspx?key=F1246C519EF3C93B

Click the link at the top right of this page to donate to our safety net, the WFF... Ab.

2/7 Misery Index-

Hmmm, Small Agency FMO, I was thinking on similar lines and have some additional input for some MI correction charts.

Tick index– This only applies when you can stop what you are doing, look down and see the crawly critters on your person. The correction factor is as follows:

1-2= +3
3-10= +30
11-20= +60
21-50= +90
51+ = +150
(and for the record I believe the most recorded by someone at my station is 54 ticks picked off themselves in one sitting)

RH/Temp trigger point- At any time where the temperature is above 75 degrees and the RH % meets or exceeds the numerical value of the temperature, a correction factor of +30 shall be added.

Pulaski
~still here a listnin' in on yall

And here we were thinking of having an auction to auction off your moniker... Ab.

2/7 LP housing and housing on other forests

I was just curious to know if any of the people that
came up with this LPF housing solution actually live in
government housing. The problem I have with
government housing where I live is that most of it is
taken up by our higher GS grade people and the newbies
can't get in because of the lack of housing. So they
are the ones who have to go out and rent at a higher
price. We actually have a biologist who has their own
house in town and commutes to work, but the person also
has a government house that they use one or two days a week.
But mainly its used by this person and friends for a place
to party at on the weekends. A complete abuse if you
ask me. I don't mind limiting time you're allowed in
government housing but I think it should be based more
on your grade than anything.

To me it just shows how out of touch our upper
management is with the needs of the people on the
ground.

ME

2/7 I posted with link to an Excellent (free) Video from Public Health
Seattle / King County on the Pandemic Flu Watchout page. Takes
20 min to watch it. Download it and send it to other all-risk
responders.

Mellie

2/7 Thanks Lori for the AVUE clarification!

Justin
2/7 Mellie,

You said it in a way that everyone can understand.

I doubt that either myself, Misery Whip, or OFG could have come close
to hitting the relevant points as well as you did. I can't speak for them...
but..... I think folks would agree.

Mellie, YOU ROCK

Lobotomy
2/6 Ab's,
  • This post is not a jab or insult to anyone.
  • This is not a post to attack or finger point. This is not the type of post the ab's commonly discourage and sometimes bark back at us to stop.
  • This post is not to identify or "call out" any group or person.
  • This post is not about R-5 vs the rest of the Forest Service Firefighters.
  • This post is a call to all Forest Service and other Federal Wildland Firefighters from New Hampshire to San Diego to understand we all may have different issues and actions, however we are Borthers and Sisters and we are all in this together.
  • And finally this post acknowledges some very hard work by many theysaiders and FWFSA over the past few years who have been and will continue to make sure our voices are heard.

To whom this may apply,

  • To those of you outside of R-5 and a few inside, who believed and at times replied negatively wondering why R-5 Firefighters are blowing all this hot air about pay, retention, mission, respect, etc.
  • To those of you who have told us to pipe down and stop the whining.
  • To those of you who have told us at mid-career to go find another job if we don't like this one.

and

  • To those of you who have read the Dec 10th R-5 Retention draft (which only happened because of our voices within theysaid and FWFSA) and who will soon benefit with portal to portal pay, doctrine principals for training and certifications, streamlined admin procedures, and mission clarity, I only have one thing to say to you with a calm and humble voice and that is to tell you...... You're Welcome !

Signed,

We Will Succeed Because We Are RIGHT - Keep the Chatter High, Keep Hammering Until Approval and Implementation !  Don't let up!

2/6 Justin,

This issue was brought up in both the HR and Civil Rights communities. If you go back in now, you will see that it is no longer at the end of the application. And if anybody did attach it, go back in and delete it. It is no longer a requirement and you sure don't want a document like a birth certificate or passport floating around out there. Someone wasn't thinking when they added that little box in - identity theft big time!!

Lori
2/6 Ken Palmrose, chair of the AD firefighter organization (ADFA) sent a note saying that FEDS (Federal Employee Defense Services, Inc.) has teamed up with ADFA to provide professional liability protection to ADFA members. Good for Tony Vergnetti and his group of lawyers. Ab.
2/6 AB,

Just to let you know, the LPF Housing Policy is being looked at as a model for R-5. It will be taken to the Regional Office and possibly Nationally since they (as management) will find a way to DESTROY the Family values of the Forest Service and the individuals. The Los Madres employees are only the first sheep being led to slaughter. As a region, the rest will follow, when your management buys into this policy. Great Retention Tool.
Throw the experienced out and make room for the new.

For all of you living on Government Trailer Lots, plan now before they blind side you and stab you in the back when they tell you your mobile home is worth nothing and your are out 40 to 90 thousand dollars, which was planned for your family's down payment for retirement or for your first home when you transfer for a new job. Everybody in a Gov House, five years comes pretty quick, when your wife has a job and your children are in school and you are told you have to leave and find a job in another area. Remember this when you apply to the Los Madres. The cheapest, POS, homes located around the forest are 350 thousand and up, Santa Barbara, 700 thousand and up.

You are seeing the Slow Death of a forest which has had a lot of pride in past years. Management is killing us.....

On Paradise Road, driving to the SBRD District Office, you pass a lot of summer cabins. Some of these are Permanent Houses and the majority are considered Vacation Homes. The vacation homes are given a 20 year lease and are able to sell their homes for whatever they can get. These homes are on gov lots, same as the employees who have mobile homes, but the homes pay one third the cost. Forest employees cannot buy these homes: conflict of interest.

Government Housing ranges from $900 to $1300 a month depending on where you live. Mobile home lots on the SBRD are now at $400 a month. Just remember, if you buy a Mobile Home, in five years you cannot sell it on the government lot. You have to remove it off the forest land and sell it to a new employee who can move it back to the same lot it came from. Management is so intelligent, I guess that is where Educated Idiots come from. Too bad the majority had to work for the Forest Service.

This policy has created a lot of stress for families and a hostile working environment by management.

The saying off the day: Have you been H##NERED today? We have.

Serving the Government Not the Employees.....

signed Trailer Trash, in management's eyes

2/6 From the hotlist

Anybody have any ideas about the new AVUE application reminder that asks you to post proof of citizenship, either in passport or birth certificate form? Is this legit or not? I've seen a few different takes on it from some unnamed sources, so I thought I'd ask folks here what they thought as well.

Cheers.

Justin

2/6 Some information on what I see historically (last 8 years) that relates to the lights and sirens and current confusion:

Some people in the FS over the last 4 to 5 years -- beginning with FS Firefighters -- have been concerned about criminal charges being leveled at wildland firefighters based on failure to follow the general "10 Fire Orders" and "18 Watchout Situations" and failure to adhere to checklists. The 10 and 18 and LCES are guidelines to be trained to and followed but not to be taken as absolute LAW. The fire orders are far too general to be absolute rules. Following a tragic incident, they can always be shown to have been broken.

After the 2003 SoCal Firestorm, it became abundantly clear that fires during some seasons in some parts of the country like SoCal, get moving faster than the human mind can conceive of with its limited cognitive processing and human ability to act. The expanding multitude of checklists only served to decrease firefighter safety when firefighters are making split-second risk assessing decisions in the face of volatile fire behavior, often near population centers. ("Forestry is a slow science; Firefighting is an immediate art," an old forester friend who fought fire once told me.)

Growing out of the 2003 After Action Report and the Safety Protocol Review meeting convened by R5 firefighters with Ed Hollenshead (who was, at that time, National Safety Officer at NIFC), it became clear that a "Doctrinal Approach" is the safest approach for fighting fire. This approach is also used in the military. In this approach the Commander expresses the goal he or she intends the professional firefighters (Troops) to accomplish if possible and leaves the decisions on the safe tactics used to "make it so" up to the highly trained professionals on the ground. They make their best decisions based on tried and true guidelines and best practices arrived at through lessons learned in a high-reliability learning organization. They have a flexibility in tactics arrived at through risk analysis that allows them to stay as safe as they can when working in a very high risk environment. They continue to learn from near misses, accidents and burnovers and deaths to do better next time.

More than a year ago the FS line officers who had also seen the advantage to a Doctrinal Approach began the overall revision of the Forest Service Manual (FSM). The FSM lays out Forest Service Policy (rules) for Line Officers. It says to District Rangers "These are your 'authorities' for doing your 'mandates'." It's like a Grey's Anatomy for Forest Rangers, Supervisors and Administrators. Those rewriting the FSM first began with revision of the fire section of the FSM (FSM-5100), followed by revising all the fire handbooks, manuals and guides -- containing guidelines and best practices -- that logically followed from the revision of policy. If I recall correctly, some parts of this came out last December to take effect in January '08. It's now February. In my opinion, these changes make firefighters safer.

Through the years the FSM had become overburdened with

  • information that was too general to be clear policy (authorities or rules) and
  • other information fell in the guidelines category and should be included in a handbook instead.

The revisions have now moved on from Fire (FSM-5100) to FSM-5120 and FSM-5130. This is good, in my opinion. Without having clear and concise policy (rules or authority) that is separate from more general guidelines (best practices, handbook material) for Line Officers, how will we ever have accountability for line officer decisions and how will we get at Latent Systemic Factors underlying tragedy that can be changed (for example as described in the Swiss Cheese Model of causation)? How do we get at the Latent stuff, if FS policy is not pretty (gosh-darn) clear!?

OK, the way this relates to lights and sirens...
The "Directive System" is the way the FS Manual is updated. When you open up a FS Manual, the first thing you see are "Directives" that address specific changes in the manual. These bring attention to what has changed in policy.

In the process of developing a Directive, different groups and specialists are consulted. An "Interim Directive" is often "the draft" of change as policy is being changed or clarified. Right now the FS is trying to get 2 Interim Directives into policy (FSM-20 and FSM-30). They're working on it. It's not done.

This is, in part, what caused the confusion. FS Engineers drafted the wording. For some reason other fire safety input didn't make it into the Interim Draft. When it was published, there was confusion upon reading the Interim Directive and word went out that "we won't do lights and sirens until this gets sorted out", and the rest is history. Luckily, we don't have really active fire season right at the moment and it can get sorted out. You know that TRANSITION is one of the many WATCHOUT situations. I think that's what we have here.

When it's all said and done, there will be a clear written policy authority that directs the line officer. Each Forest Supervisor will know Lights and Sirens are their responsibility. Each Forest Supervisor will know that how they want to handle Lights and Sirens on their forest, under their local topography, weather conditions, fire frequency, etc is their decision and their responsibility.

No doubt those of you who work for the FS at the management level know all this about FSM and the Directive System. I hope I got it right. No doubt Misery Whip or Lobotomy or OFG or any of a number of you could have done a better job of expressing it. I gave it a shot.

I know the issues with line officers supervising fire professionals still exist. My guess is that some line officers in socal may be pretty scared with the prospect of being held accountable when tragedy hits for failure to use -- or decision to use -- sirens and lights.

We'll get through this transition... Hope this helped.

Mellie

2/6 Via Lotus notes and was forwarded on. This should help with the code 3 issue. NonameFire

Ab note: This was Region 5's response to the lights and sirens confusion. The new version should be out on 18 Feb.

For over two years we have been working on a revised emergency vehicle operations policy.
In November a draft version of this policy was issued in error through an Interim Directive under FSM 5120 and 5130.
Recently several forest have voiced a concern over the issuance of this Interim Direction.
The issue that forests are concerned with is not being able to meet the current direction contained in the IDs.
Some forests have prohibited the use of "Red Lights and Siren" until this issue can be resolved.
I have spoken recently with Larry Sutton and Sharon AllenBrick. The correct version of 5120 and 5130 will be issued in mid February.

The draft version that was released in error is considerably different from the version that will be released this month.
Region 5 provided extensive input to the final draft which improved the directive significantly. (See attached Letter)
I will let you know as soon as I have confirmation that the correct version of ID 5120 and 5130 has been re-issued.

2/6

RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION / PAY ISSUES 1999 to 2008

Since 1999, Pay has specifically been cited as one of the key contributors to the U.S. Forest Service’s inability to retain highly skilled and experienced firefighters who often leave, clearly for better pay and compensations offered by other municipal city, county and state fire departments in California.

As to date, the perception of many personnel in Region 5 is that Management at the Regional and National Level may orchestrate a lack of response to any deadlines because there appears to be little repercussions to agency officials, and, in the event of any proposed or serious actions, timely and expeditious retirements occur to avoid addressing the issues on hand.

It would also appear that once these personnel retire, a new and invigorated pledge to collect statistical attrition data is enacted, the data is then reviewed (again), the agency develops a strategy (again) that would address agency concerns and eventually more analytical surveying and cost analysis’ are completed before it is passed to the official who has the authority of approval. The official then reviews the data, sets a date for discussion, and then retires.

In addition to these concerns, other crises are looming in the U.S. Forest Service which has been referred to as “Sounding the alarm early rather than late” in past pleas to Regional and National leaders of the agency. Some say that the alarm has long been sounded, the deployment zone is in sight and our agency has its fire shelter in hand as is performing a “Running Deployment” in a last ditch effort to save what little is left of either the workforce or its morale.

Some employees have enacted personal hardships to stop their Federal Healthcare provisions, choose to not contribute to their Government Retirement Plan and have even depleted their Retirement accounts on the grounds of financial hardships in an effort to simply survive the ongoing costs of surviving in California as one of the lowest paid fire professionals in the State.

One profound question remains clear. “Why has there been no response to the Recruitment and Retention Strategy proposal” which was due on February 1, 2008, and in addition, to this question, “Why is there no repercussion or penalty for ignoring a direct request and expectation of a congressional inquiry?”

The end result (and perception to the workforce) is that it is clearly cheaper to simply do the wrong thing (avoid any reasonable compensations for retention in R-5), than it is to do the right thing in California.

Please forward all your collected, supported, articulated, reviewed, analyzed, re-evaluated, legislative and developed documentation to the highest level decision maker who is within 90 days of retirement eligibility for immediate study and review.

Proud To Be A FWFSA Member


PAST TOPICS DATED 1999 to 2008 REGARDING RETENTION AND PAY

Congress wants to quench FS firefighters’ exit
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
retention for Southern California forests no later than. Feb. 1, 2008.” “It’s not just salaries,. it’s a multifaceted problem.

They Said, June 2006
HSA dictates retention issues, and that is our problem... retention. Did you ever hear in the past 10 years of a retention issue with CDF or maybe LACO, ...
www.wildlandfire.com/arc/2006f_jun.php - 269k - Cached - Similar pages

MORE HERE: I've given this its own page. Here's the rest of the long list of references and concerns regarding retention and recruitment / pay.

I added this research doc in the Archives under Documents Worth Reading. Note that there's another Doc in archives from 1999: Recruitment and Retention on the Angeles National Forest. Ab.

2/6 Underfunded said ".........What makes you think that Wrench isn't from one
of the "other" western States? Or a western state at all?......"

-Ding, ding, ding. Get that person a Prize! -

I'm not from California, I just work there frequently. Heck, my primary or
caucus wasn't even held yesterday. The main point is that EVERYONE
should vote. Vote what you think, vote what you believe.

New Zealand has the right idea. They fine people $15.00 each if they don't
vote.

Take that $15.00 and fund WFPR and other preparedness budgets.......

Just Vote.
Wrench
2/6 "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" ~ Benjamin Franklin

This speaks loudly when an agency is being reactive rather than proactive
primarily due to lack of leadership and direction from the highest levels.

The Forest Service can't continue to function in crisis management mode,
when it should be focusing on a crisis avoidance mode.

Lobotomy
2/5 Hi Ab,

I am writing a paper about the importance of GIS in wildfire and I wanted
to see what those on wildland fire had to say about the subject. Thanks!

-Small town VFD
2/5 Thank you to the Angeles NF-

ab- please share! giving my email address is okay!

The Shawnee NF, working cooperatively with the Illinois DNR, secured a Model 61 (Engine 20) and a prevention rig (P31) from the Angeles NF- these units have arrived in southern Illinois today and will be delivered to the Pope Co Rural Fire Dept and the Cypress FD to be given to them in a small ceremony to be attended by Congressman Shimkus on Feb 19th-

I want to personally thank Region 5 and the Angeles NF for helping us increase our wildland capability in southern Illinois/Shawnee NF-

The Pope County RFD lost a fire station due to arson in July 2007 losing a engine, tanker, brush truck, rescue truck and all gear- Almost 50% of Pope Co. has FS land and has our highest fire response-

The Cypress FD has minimal FS response but has Cypress Creek NWR (FWS) and thousands of acres of IDNR land with minimal tax base- their Type 6 was a 1966 military excess truck so getting a 1995 F-350 4x4 is a big deal to this small department-

Again, I express my gratitude to the folks on the Angeles NF and the Region 5 Fleet folks to helping us out back in Region 9-

Chris A. Peterson
Forest Fire Mgmt Officer/FAO
Shawnee NF

2/5 Aberdeen -

Last time I looked, there were 24 US States doing some kind of Primary stuff today. Please don't forget/ignore the fact that more than 95% of the States voting today that are not California but they are still are part of this Super Tuesday election. What makes you think that Wrench isn't from one of the "other" western States? Or a western state at all?

-Underfunded

2/5 Small Agency FMO:

Good points, all! The MI only works for heat precipitated related misery, doesn't it?

Clearly more work is needed! I think I'll start with the hot buttered rum . . .

PB

I invite people to post any other Misery Index calculations or examples here or on the MI Hotlist thread. Maybe in the morning if it's buttered rum first. Ab.

2/5 On the heels of a 13% reduction in funding for wildland fire preparedness (now, WFPR, FY 2008), I feel compelled to offer the obvious stupidity of an additional 12% reduction in funding for fire preparedness in FY 2009.

That math is simple: A 25% reduction in preparedness since FY 2007.

Since 2004, each year, wildland fire preparedness has suffered through the "shell game" as WFPR funds were diverted, misused, and often "lost" in a bureaucracy that is so top-heavy .... so forgetful of the past..... so resentful of a fire program that is one of the best in the world a keeps the Agency afloat.... A program that owes its true existence to wildland fire management and lessons learned from the past... and its LEADERS.

The Forest Service has lost direction, and should self examine the mistakes of the past. The "old school Rangers" of the past were firefighters concentrating on the basics:

1) Protection of communities,
2) Protection of watershed, and
3) Keeping the forests from being exploited for profit.

All of the other reductions in the fire program emphasis areas, as well as the reductions to the aligned State and Private Forestry program areas, shows that some folks (not FIRE) surely don't understand what "Caring for the Land, Serving People" actually means.

JMHO
2/5 The Misery Index (MI):

PB,

I applied your misery index formula to a recent event. Other than illness it was the most miserable I had been in a long while. This event was changing a flat tire my wife had one morning last month on her way to work. The calculated MI greatly under represented the misery I experienced. This would also have been handy on some late fall Chinook driven wildfires I had been on where signs of frost bite were part of the briefing.

0 + 25 + (-18) + 5 + 0 /3.25 = 3.69 MI

Where:
Slope 0 – Flat Road
RH 25%
Temp -18 (True temp not wind chill)
RMP 5 (Changing a flat tire on the side of a very busy two lane state highway so I assumed the max value.)
C 0

I would liken your MI and my experience to the differences between NFDRS and the Canadian Fire Danger System. KBDI was added to NFDRS to address the unique situation in the SE USA. While we in the boreal forest areas of the USA have come to rely on the Canadian system. I would hope that we could amend the MI index to account for the factors we have here with out having to resort to a whole different system.

Some items and values for Correction Factor Tables
Latitude north of 42 Deg and temperatures are below 40 use this table to determine that appropriate correction factor. Use the sum of all that apply.
Inadequate clothing +50
Clothing is wet +75
Skin is wet + 400
More than 4 hours till next hot meal +50
Snow or ice pellets hitting your face + 25
Eyelevel winds in excess of 15 mph + 40
Thermos of coffee on hand – 80
Thermos of hot buttered rum on hand -1,000

Small Agency FMO

2/5 The Misery Index (MI):

PB,

Great concept, I fully endorse your efforts. You miserable b*stard.

Misery Whip

2/5 Ab,

I would like others to know how the Los Padres is helping (not) with the retention of employees. The government housing policy has just been rewritten and signed by the Forest Supervisor. It has been stated that housing can be used for recruitment but not for retention. In this policy it states that current renters of government housing have a 5 year contract with “possible” extensions of one year each.

Future renters of Gov. homes will be granted only a one year contract with “possible” one year extensions. Current mobile home owners who pay a trailer pad fee have a 7 year contract also with “possible” one year extensions. Only the owners in place now have the option of reselling the mobile home while it is on Gov. property. Future residents in the mobile home park do not have the option of selling the home on Gov. property.

Interestingly enough, the previous contracts had no length of residency as long as you were an employee of the USFS. As recently as Dec.07, new tenants purchased modular homes at costs between $40,000 and $100,000. These people were told by management that “we feel for you but…”. Hmm, do you think that anyone in their right mind would purchase a mobile home from a current owner knowing that they can not sell this home again but will have to pay to have it removed at the end of the contract? Now, this home must be hauled off site to the nearest state or private property for resale at a huge cost.

So our new apprentices and other employees who made these purchases will be stuck with payments long after they may be required to haul this home off Gov. property. It looks like our idea from the forest is to create a transient work force. Keep them a couple of years and move them out. Kind of tough to live on many parts of this forest at our GS levels. This idea seems to work for the Forest Supervisor and deputies we have had. A long tenure for “leadership” is a couple of years, then out. For others on Forests with housing, please watch out for this policy as we here on the LP hope that it does not go national and screw other employees of this organization.

Ab, add what attachments you see fit; there may need to be some editing of names.

retention/lpf-housing-assignment-plan-011008.doc (29k doc file)
fs-correspond-on-lpf-housing.doc (39k doc file)
lpf-quarters-policy011508.doc (161k doc file)

signed Doublewide Pride

I heard about this over the weekend. Zero sum gain regarding number of employees. Loss of experience... Ab.

2/5 Wrench (and Ab) - last time I looked, there were 50 US States (and a few territories and Possessions) and only 24 were doing some kind of Primary stuff today. Please don't forget/ignore the fact that there are more than 50% of the States who aren't voting today, but we are still are part of this forum and the on-going conversations about wildland fire! Sometimes I remember why many of us in the "other" western States feel that we have been "Californicated".

Aberdeen

Great, if you haven't voted yet and today isn't the day, vote when your turn comes. I voted on 1/19. Ab.

2/5 AB:

The Obituary for Marc was in Today's Longmont Times Call, Longmont,
Colorado. You can do what you want, but thought you would like to see it.

Marc was a great friend when I knew him when he was here in Boulder County.
I was a volunteer FF from Niwot and President of BCFFA at time. He was a
person to look up to, (also I was much shorter). But he always was there if
I needed his advice and he treated me and all volunteers as a firefighter of
his. I learned more from Marc in how to treat people and be a leader. I have
tried to pass that on to my son. I will miss him and will remember all the
good things that he did here in Boulder County. Thank you Marc.

CAFSMAN
Cliff Tharp (Retired)
Niwot Volunteer Fire (Mtn. View FPD)

*********************~*~*~*********************

Publish date: 2/5/2008

Sept. 16, 1957 - Jan. 28, 2008
Marc R. MULLENIX , husband, father and dear friend, died January 28, 2008, in Mancos, Colorado. He was 50 years old.

Marc was born to Robert and Charmaine Mullenix on September 16, 1957, in Downey, California. After graduating from high school, Marc attended the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where he played basketball all four years, and completed his bachelor of science degree in geography, with a minor in coaching. After college, Marc became a hotshot in Alaska, beginning his lifelong career in firefighting. Marc then moved to Nevada, where he began working for the Bureau of Land Management. Marc worked in the Wildland Fire Service for 27 years, 15 years of which he served as Division Chief for the Boulder, Colorado Fire Department. He served as the Fire Management Officer for Mesa Verde National Park, and most recently, Division Chief for Fairmount Fire Protection District. Marc served on the Boulder American Red Cross advisory council, co-developed and managed the Rocky Mountain Wildland Fire Helicopter program, and helped start Wildland Fire Academies in several states. Marc served in the Rocky Mountain Area on Incident Management Teams for 17 years and served as the Incident Commander for 12 years with the Colorado Wildfire and Incident Management Academy. Marc also served as the Type II and Type 1(t) Incident Commander for the Rocky Mountain Region Interagency Fire Community. In addition to his leadership on wildland fire assignments, Marc helped manage the Columbia shuttle recovery, hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and Rita, and disaster response in Colorado.

Marc met his wife, Shawna Legarza, at the World Trade Center recovery efforts for 9/11. They were married in 2005 at West Hampton Beach, Long Island, New York. Marc enjoyed contributing to the communities where he worked and lived, including coaching basketball in Longmont, Colorado, and enjoyed playing golf and basketball in his free time. Marc was a dedicated mentor and colleague, passionate about firefighting, and committed to teaching others in his field. His friends and family will remember him as a person filled with love and respect for his wife, great pride in his daughter, a spirited energy, and enthusiasm for his job.

Marc is survived by his wife, Shawna Legarza, of Mancos, Colorado, and his daughter, Nicolette Mullenix, of Longmont, Colorado. Marc will also be remembered by his former wife, Karen Mullenix, of Longmont, Colorado; his mother, Charmaine Mullenix, of Orcutt, California; his brother, Norm Mullenix, of Prescott, Arizona, and all his friends in the wildland fire community. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Mullenix.

Marc will be honored with a Fire Family Memorial Service on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, at 12:00 p.m. at Faith Bible Chapel, 6250 Wright Street, Arvada, Colorado 80004. Flowers may be sent to Fairmont Fire Protection District, 4755 Isabell Street, Golden, Colorado 80403.

Donations may be made to the Marc Mullenix Life Challenges Foundation at Wells Fargo Bank, 200 West College Drive, Durango, Colorado 81301.

Community, please go to Marc's Remembrance Page and leave a story, condolence or remembrance for his family. Ab.

2/5 For all you fire folks who applied to and were hired through the AVUE system -

Could you please go back into your AVUE account and withdraw you application for the job that you got? We will be getting the new lists tomorrow and having gone in and done an applicant search, I see applications are still in there and will more than likely show up on the lists as candidates of people who have already been offered and accepted jobs.

Just withdraw your application from the job that you took - you don't have to do anything else! This will be applying to anyone who is offered and accepting a job in the future also, but make sure you have that job first!!

Thanks a million!!

Still HeRe.......

2/5 Super Tuesday - Feb. 5th

If you don't vote, you don't have the right to *female dog* verbally.

So VOTE!!!

Wrench

Everyone, please vote...

2/5 Readers,

Here's the 22 page Notes or Draft of the December '07 Region 5 Retention Meeting.

Thanks contributors, and thanks for being patient as we waited for the February 1st deadline.

Ab.

2/5 Ab,

I came across something tonight I participated in during some, uh, downtime in R4. I hadn't seen in a while. Maybe this will cheer the board a bit:

The Misery Index

Wildland firefighters receive regular radio reports of various fire behavior and personnel safety indicators. For example, the relative humidity (RH) is the percentage of atmospheric saturation humidity, calculated in relation to saturated vapor density. It is essentially a measure of the amount of moisture a volume of air holds at a given time, and is accepted as a strong indicator of imminent fire behavior.

The energy release component (ERC) is a calculated output of the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS). It is essentially a measure of the amount of the energy stored in Class A fuels that will be released upon combustion, and is also strong indicator of fire behavior potential.

The heat index charts temperature against RH, and is a predictor of firefighter potential for exhaustion.

But there are no known numerical predictors for firefighter morale, which is a significant component of firefighter safety. No numerical predictors, that is, until now. Introducing the new-generation Misery Index (MI)*:

[(% Slope) + (% RH) + (Temperature) + (RMP) + (C)] / 3.25

Where variables are defined as:

% Slope = 1-100
% RH = 1-100
Temperature = Degrees Fahrenheit
RMP = Relative Misery of Project, subjectively assessed, 1-5
C = Correction from special charts (0.0 in most cases)

For all temperatures above 0.0 degrees Fahrenheit, the MI produces a numerical rating on a scale of 1-100. MI's above 50 are considered significant, 72-78 are considered severe, 78-90 are considered extreme, and 90+ are considered intolerable.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For reference purposes, my friend <snip> who was burned over last year in a fire shelter in Wyoming endured an MI of 143 for over an hour. (He is a remarkable specimen and his feat should be considered a statistical anomaly). At the time this took place, the MI at my position in Idaho was a mild 48.

It is my hope that continued analysis will lead to refinement of the MI such that it will become a regular part of every firefighter's toolkit. I envision correction charts (to be inserted at variable C) for special cases. For example, there could be a chart for length of assignment (day 14 is more miserable than day 2), situational awareness of firefighter supervisors (misery increases in direct correlation to incompetence of overhead), futility of firefighter assignment (misery increases with the senselessness of firefighter operations) or hours since last beer (self-explanatory). One day it may well become part of the go-no-go checklists in the IRPG, an insert in the Incident Organizer, a major component in developing engagement trigger points and a perhaps even a basis for pay-scale adjustments (think, time and a quarter for periods of MI over 72). Private contractors and hotshots, who are miserable by the nature of their work assignments would be exempt, of course.

*Work on the Misery Index began at the Krassel Workcenter, ID-PAF D-6, by firefighters <snip> and <self-snip> in July of 2006. Tragically, the original data and preliminary formulas were lost in an end-of-season dry erase board accident. It is believed that the original denominator was 42.3 but this is a subject of some debate . . . .

Anyway, Happy Fire Season '08, everybody! Wish I could be there with you.

PB

Good one. I added it to the Acronym List. Ab.

2/5 Hopefully the rest of the country will find the tracker as easy to use as we here in region 5 find it. Dennis McKinnon has done a great job getting this thing up and going for the rest of the country in less than a month, adding a whole new program for referral list requests. Too bad that the other system that ASC was using (empowHR) couldn't even begin to fix their problems in the 2 years that it had to get it up and running.

We here in R5 are all hoping that somebody higher up will see the light and stay with the tracker system. It works well and everyone involved with the hiring can see where the process is from beginning to end.

Any input from other regions just starting to use it?

Here to stay (at least for 2 more years)

2/5 For CY 2006, in Washington DC, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (all agencies and services) had over $290 million in "off the top" costs from employees making in excess of $100,000 per annum. The amount is even more staggering when you find out that the USDA has 6,673 employees in Washington DC and only 2,424 attributed to the initial off the top costs.

I wonder when such a large bureaucracy as the USDA, none the less the Forest Service, starts addressing recruitment and retention at all levels?

The FWFSA is still hoping to partner with the agency in addressing facts, offering suggestions for best practices on ways of cost containment and mission efficiency, and improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for all federal wildland firefighters.

Lobotomy
2/4 Alan Simmons of Firestorm Videos called today to let us know about a new instructional/training DVD set coming out very soon. In an effort to spread the word to folks, including those attending the Firehouse World Convention in San Diego who may desire to talk to them in person, we put up a quick announcement to let folks know about the new offering. Check it out here: Interface Firefighting for Firefighters by Firefighters. OA

Go look at the flyer, looks interesting. This community certainly knows the authors. Ab.

2/4 Interesting article about the Presidents' new budget proposal.

Lawmakers complain Bush budget cuts fire prevention money
www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_8165281

By Erica Werner Associated Press Writer
AP Writer Matthew Daly contributed

02/04/2008

Washington - President Bush's 2009 budget plan would slash money for fire prevention and preparedness in the wake of last fall's devastating wildfires in California, prompting an outcry from Democratic lawmakers who warned of massive layoffs at the Forest Service.

Bush did propose a slight increase in money to respond to fires.

The proposals were in Bush's final, $3.1 trillion budget blueprint, which he presented to Congress on Monday. Majority Democrats quickly indicated that they wouldn't go along with many of his plans.

"Our nation's forest are tinder dry, and drought and global warming will only compound the problem and lead to more catastrophic wildfires," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "More needs to be done, not less."

Among the proposed cuts was a $13 million decrease in money for the Forest Service to clear debris and small trees that can pose a risk of fire.

Money for preparedness and readiness, such as firefighter training and equipment, would fall from $942 million to $866 million, according to Democratic aides.

Overall the budget for the U.S. Forest Service would decline from $4.5 billion in 2008 to $4.1 billion in 2009 under Bush's proposal.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., chairman of the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee, called the proposed cuts to the Forest Service "breathtaking" and said they could result in a layoff of nearly 1,200 employees—10 percent of the agency's work force. "It's bad," Dicks said.

Asked about the complaints, Forest Service spokesman Joe Walsh said only, "The budget is a starting point for dialogue during budget hearings."

A $5.9 million Interior Department rural fire assistance grant program would be eliminated in Bush's budget plan, while a Homeland Security Department program that provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and medical services organizations would be cut by more than 50 percent.

Money for responding to fires would increase by $190 million, but lawmakers want more money in prevention because once fires start they will be responded to regardless of how much money is budgeted. In recent years response costs have exceeded what's been budgeted.

Last October, nearly 2,200 homes were destroyed in simultaneous wind-driven blazes from north of Los Angeles south to the Mexican border, causing more than $2.2 billion in private insurance claims. Federal, state and local agencies spent about $100 million fighting flames that charred about 800 square miles and killed 10 people.

"When our firefighters are out there on the front lines working to protect our communities, you don't slash funding for their equipment and training," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Feinstein and Dicks said they'd work to restore the money. Bush has proposed similar cuts in past years but Congress has restored much of the money.

Signed,
Fishy

Fair Use Disclaimer

2/4 Ab,

Here we go again, from the Administration's 2009 budget request released today:

"The 2009 Interior budget proposes a $5.9 million reduction from the 2008 enacted level to terminate the Rural Fire Assistance program. Funding for the RFA program was zeroed out in 2007, and the program focus shifted to managing remaining fund balances and overseeing the closeout of the program.

"The Department again proposes to abolish the RFA program as a separate source of funding for assistance to local and rural fire departments. Interior will continue to use $1.2 million in Preparedness funding to provide training and personal equipment to local firefighters to help build a ready-reserve of local firefighters that can support initial and extended attack on large fires."
www.doi.gov/budget/2009/09Hilites/BH101.pdf

It sure would be nice if someone at NIFC would stand up for volunteer firefighters, instead of year after year trying to kill the RFA program.

vfd cap'n

2/4


~~ NEW ~ COUNTDOWN ~ 10 ~ DAYS ~~

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=RETENTION=--=DAY=--=RETENTION=--=STRATEGY=-
!!-=RETENTION=--=MESSAGE=--=DEADLINE=--=TO=--=CONGRESS=-!!
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

PUT  THE  HEART  IN  VALENTINE'S  DAY
 

2/4 To All:

OK, you can stop holding your collective breaths...at least for another week. Word from Senator Feinstein's office is that the Forest Service has asked for some additional time to complete some additional work on the recommendations. Her office is expecting to see something the week of Feb. 11th.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
2/4 Ab,

Regions 1, 2, 3 and 4, the WO and NIFC are participating in a Fire Leadership and Management Video Conference tomorrow. It goes from 0830-1530. We'll all be logging on to it from our home bases. All forests are supposed to have this teleconferencing technology. Thanks to Mark Bachi (sp?) for pressing for this need for communication on issues. Regions 2 and 3 have 14 vacancies at the top of their fire programs. We only expect to have 2 filled by fire season.

Agenda includes

FAM Emphasis for 2008 and changes in Policy - Tom Harbour
Regional Forester - Leadership Expectations
Fire Management Efficiencies (WFDSS), Lessons Learned in '07 and Considerations for '08, a walk-thru by Tom Zimmerman (Tom was regional director in R3.)
Risk Management and Safety - Bill Waterberry and Larry Sutton

Should be interesting...

R2 fire techie

WFDSS=Wildland Fire Decision Support System, replaced WFSA

2/4 Ab Update on the Speculation posted by "not commanders intent"

Research on Casey's part -asking 5 fire planners and FMOs from R5 and one from R6- indicates that fire planning has not deviated from the norm. Hope this dispels speculation and rests people's minds on the part of "not commanders intent" and others.

Thanks Casey. Ab.

2/4 -AM Regional (R5) Conference call - Recruitment/Retention Issue.

Latest info from Ed. H is that WO is backing R5. Probably will redefine
the fire mission as it relates to our cooperators and Urban/Interface, will
look at several options on the pay discrepancies from all sides. Direction
will be a ways down the road.

This was via our lotus notes this a.m.

NonameFire

2/4 For the Forest Service folks ...... ASC is out of the hiring business, We now
have a new program (52 Tracker) that is promised to be more user friendly,
and it might even work. Let's change horses in the middle of the stream.......
can you swim? Lets hope all of ASC's cases will be transferred to 52 Tracker
before the "08" fire season starts so we have the ability to hire
employees / firefighters

(name withheld)

ASC is Albuquerque Service Center.

There was some discussion of this several weeks ago when ASC and some Fire Human Resources on R5 Forests were informed. Anyone having any experiences with how 52 Tracker is performing so far? Ab.

2/4 The FY 2008 Forest Service Budget Request is out:
www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/
From what I've heard, the 2009 budget request is worse.

Highlights 2008 request:

1) Wildland Fire Preparedness w/o Wildland Firefighter Supplement
Down $306.8 million (-47%)

2) Wildland Fire Preparedness w/ Wildland Firefighter Supplement
Down $87.1 million (-13%)

3) Wildland Fire Suppression
Up $169.56 million (+23%)

4) Hazardous Fuels
Down $259,000 (+0%)

5) Rehab & Restoration
Down $5 million (-100%)

6) Fire Research & Development
Down $800,000 (-4%)

7) Joint Fire Sciences Program
Down $5 million (-38%)

8) NFP Forest Health - Fed Lands
Down $548,000 (-4%)

9) NFP Forest Health - Coop Lands
Down $14,000 (0%)

10) NFP State Fire Assistance
Down $8 million (-19%)

11) NFP Volunteer Fire Assistance
Down $4.8 million (-38%)

COMBINED WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT BUDGET REQUEST
DOWN $161.6 million (-9%)

noname

2/4 Ab,

I know you don't like speculation, but if the Forest FMOs are not being
included in fire budget planning and they usually are, could the FS be
exploring giving the fire budget to CalFire et al?

not commanders intent

I hope there's someone out there from the FS who can clearly answer that budget question. Where are the FS communicators? Tom Harbour? Rose Davis? FMOs?

As I understand it, FS Fire cannot be outsourced, although this was considered in the Tim Melchert FAM Cross-Boundary letter prior to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill which excluded outsourcing of any kind. Ab.

UPDATE:
Rumor Control
: Read the 4th post above. Multiple, reliable sources report there is no deviation from normal in the way the fire budgeting process is proceeding. Ab.

2/4 Ab,

There's lots of quietly seeking information and hush-hush
planning going on between the FS and CalFire, but it's
unclear what that is. Anybody know?

SoCal CalFire

We had one CalFire inquiry on the lights and sirens issue over the weekend. At least one socal area is organizing across fire agencies and community support groups to contact congressional representatives and media. Aside from that, I don't know. Anyone? Ab.

2/4 FYI -

The week of 2/18 is when CalFire Chiefs go to Sac to make their Captain selections.

MA

Is the FS likely to loose more people after that, just before fire season, as happened last hiring go-round? Thanks. Ab.

2/4


` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=THREE - DAYS - AFTER - RETENTION - DAY - DEADLINE=--=NO - RETENTION - STRATEGY=-
!!!-=NO - FOREST - SERVICE - RETENTION - MESSAGE - TO -CONGRESS=-!!!
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

~~~~~~~~~~  STILL NO JOY, Firefighters planning their exit  ~~~~~~~~~

2/3 Casey,

Hey whoa! I hear you. You're doing a great job! Keep it up. You're busting tail and have completely earned my respect. I've been a loyal minion from the beginning. I am still with the Fed and I do explode with negativity from time to time, but I also write and call Reps, Senators, and other folks on almost a daily schedule. I'm leaving; I have to for the betterment of my family, but I don't want to jump ship and leave my brothers and sisters without my support. I want to do everything I can to help move Fed fire to the next level. I'm sure Tom meant what he said, but he is also allowing Mr. Rey and Chief Kimball drive the FS fire ship like a drunken party boat.

NV DR,

Your thoughts are right on for Region 4. Unfortunately, Region 5 is a rather large WUI-intensive beast. So even though we are not Calfire, LAFD, SFFD, Kern County, or any other Municipal organization, we are expected to cooperate with them nonetheless and alot of the times act like them to get the job done correctly. I seriously believe Region 5 is leading the Fed fire programs into a new century of service. Where else would "All risk" benefit the tax payers more than in some of the far reaches of Montana, Nevada, Wyoming where the nearest volunteer department station could be 45 mins away and the nearest paid department 2, 3, 4, 24 hours away. Yet the forest service station with and engine is a 1/4 mile down the road. The reality as it is these days is that in Region 5 it is unrealistic and more expensive and time consuming to have a chief running this way and that in their POV to get their GOV and then respond back by their house to the scene. It is especially unrealistic to expect that kind of driving when there are houses threatened, which is commonly the case here. At least the chief could be on scene helping keep the volunteers safe and protecting homes while it takes me the 45 mins to drive from home to the station to respond.

Sincerely,
Gone but not forgotten

2/3 GOV...

Ab,
 
How did you know it had a name? I change it frequently. Right now it is
"g** d***! been broke down for the last month and might be fixed soon"
truck!!!

In all honesty, I am trying to help out by showing that there is an AD form
for home-to-work that the duty officers can fill out. Make sure it is beneficial
to the government to allow you to take your ride home and it should work
out. That's all i got ta say about that.

guns n hoses

2/3 Ring the bell....

AB.

Yes the ship is going down, and we are still only 0462 forestry techs.
Here is what some past R-5 Captains Chairs put in their reports to sound the alarm.

FISCAL YEAR 2005 REGION 5 ENGINE CAPTAINS' REPORT

We as a collective group have expressed these concerns at both the 2004 and 2005 Division Chief’s workshop as well as through written response directly to our Regional Leadership that directly addressed commentary between the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association and Regional Forester (2004) Jack Blackwell.

Our group of dedicated Fire Engine Captains remains true to the U.S. Forest Service and have developed this comprehensive report which identifies alarming character patterns of concern which we believe are adding to the economic failure of our infrastructure of the United States Forest Service here in California.

We, as the middle ground of the employee base, feel we are an exceptional barometer of what our employees seek and desire to achieve. We have seen many factors that now contribute to the unstable workforce trend and send word of caution to both the Regional and Congressional leadership who weigh, monitor and balance the budgetary capabilities of the Disaster Ready workforce here in California.

Two specific contributors to our growing failure are that of

  • un-affordable housing costs in California Region 5 and the other is the
  • poor pay scale that plagues and cripples our workforce for a better family dynamic.

2006 REGION 5 ENGINE CAPTAINS' REPORT

Our efforts of this report are to define both accomplishments of our group as a whole as well as to cause alarm to any situation that undermines our ability to deliver safe, productive and professional results in the dangerous profession of wildland fire suppression in the urban interface of California’s most affected communities within or adjacent to Federal and National Forest Lands.

We as a collective group have expressed ongoing concerns across the State in regards to reduced safety as a result of high vacancy and attrition rates that have near crippled our firefighting workforce in all 18 of our National Forests in California. Our group continues to provide this comprehensive report to assist our Regional and National Leaders in an effort to identify these alarming character patterns of concern which continues to add to the economic failure of our infrastructure of the United States Forest Service in California.

As in our 2005 report, We as Management Middle Ground of a large workforce send caution and warning of a workforce who is struggling to meet the demands of a high vacancy rate and crippling housing costs in the region as well as the loss of Engine 57, and many other factors diminishing the duty, integrity and structure which each of us has worked so hard to maintain, in benefit of the United States Forest Service in Region 5.

In 2004 and in 2005 we sounded the alarm of a mass exodus of quality employees leaving the USFS to accept better paying jobs with City, County and State Departments to better provide for their families all together.

We have continuously collected and provided adequate data to support the claims of mass attrition and vacancy amongst our organization and are still awaiting some type of resolve that will assist us in retaining a highly effective workforce as was intended when we implemented the (MEL) "Most Efficient Level" buildup in 2001 till present.

Our collective group still provides our Regional Leaders with a "Can Do!" oriented group, but I must admit, it is getting much harder to provide the level of service required with the current and unimaginable vacancy rate here in Region 5.

Our request continues to be our unanswered plea for equal pay incentives commensurate to our cooperative agencies, as well as a new request that a more thorough review of our State of California situation affecting USFS Federal Employees be reviewed by the Washington Office and congressional administrators.

Our Regional Workforce has provided excellent and dynamic leadership in what was possibly one of the most difficult fire seasons to date. In a few short months this meeting will be far away from the tasks that we will be asked to perform in what is sure to be another busy 2007 California Fire Season. We will perform, we will respond and we will make calculated and educated decisions in regards to risk versus gain management.

We will be held accountable at the highest level, for the young men and women we lead into these dangerous assignments as firefighters…. It is during these times that we, as the voice of the Fire Engine Workforce, ask that something be done to relieve the on going strain and burden of a deteriorating workforce.

We thank our Regional Leadership for these opportunities to assist in the detection and elimination of these catastrophic workforce issues and we pledge our continued commitment to improving our organizational efforts to reflect a professional, dynamic and goal oriented group serving the best interests of both our employees and the public we serve.

So, now where do we stand?

The meeting is this month in RENO and it will be up to the R-5 Captains Group to pull together and get some answers to what the h*ll is going on with our Leadership.....

Good Luck Steve.

/s/ 5150.

2/3 Ab...

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same object evinces a design to resolve them under absolute
despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government,
and to provide new guards for their future security." (Declaration of
Independence).

Sign me as RockinW

2/3 Hi Ab,

Thought this might be something people would want to know about..... this is
the online guest book to leave condolences to the family of Marc R. Mullenix....
I know his family would appreciate hearing from people.

http://obit.ertelfuneralhome.com/obitdisplay.phpl?id=501268&listing=Current

I didnt know how to post or if I could....Please do not use my name only the
information regarding the guest book.....

Sincere Regards,
L

Nice, L. Welcome.
Folks, tell your stories of Marc. Make him come alive to his family as a leader, mentor and fun loving guy. He was those things. Families crave every bit of good memory they can get. We can help out. Like the time he broke the "rules", slept in a motel and his team decorated his Fairmont FD rig with stickers, reeled out his hoses, put his portable FD gear up for "sale" and wore his Fairmont FD t-shirts in camp. Had me busting a gut to hear that one... There is so much good stress releasing humor on fires. Marc enjoyed that. If you have a story or simply condolences, please express it. If anyone has a story they want to share but want to run it by a "grammar king" first, please sent it in here. I'd be happy to read it over and make sure grammar, punctuation spelling, etc is fine and dandy. Ab.

2/3 Casey,

On 2/2 you stated (partial quote here) "rather than grabbing the wheel
and taking control of the proverbial sinking ship" got me to thinking.
Maybe the proverb is wrong.

Don't grab the wheel - PLUG THE HOLES! It isn't a one-person job.
It is a crew/team job. While grabbing the wheel may allow one to run
the ship aground, it is still sinking. Once aground, it is easier to dismantle
than refloat.

What I am seeing is a lack of management and absence of leadership.
Management is doing things right - I don't see that.
Leadership is doing the right thing - I don't see that happening either.

Someone in my immediate family has been in the FS since 1925. Watching
the deconstruction of a once respected organization is hard to watch.

But I am on the outside looking in.

Keep pluggin away.

Steve LCES

2/3 Batgirl,

The way that law enforcement justifies taking their patrol vehicles home is the fact that it is written into law that we are permitted to do so. It is under 31 USC i Believe (it is on the ADform for home to work if you want the actual section). We are expected to be able to respond from our residence in order to potentially head to a crime of violence or something of the sort. Personally, I believe that the duty officer SHOULD be able to do so and in the event that it is beneficial to the public and financially more beneficial to the government, they should be allowed to.

Guns n hoses

Don't worry Guns, we won't let them take your patrol vehicle away. Does it have a name? Ab.

2/3 Ab,

WildWeb, the internet incident information part of WildCAD, will be moving
to new, faster servers in the next couple of weeks. In order to facilitate
the change, the method for accessing WildWeb pages has changed.

www.WildCAD.net?WildWeb=ALL presents a list of all recent WildWeb
sites.

www.WildCAD.net?WildWeb=ANF displays the Angeles ECC WildWeb site.

www.WildCAD.net?WildWeb=AZ-AIDC displays Arizona Interagency Dispatch
Center.

and so forth.

We plan to support a transition period during which the old urls will work,
but I wanted to get this information out to you for your WildWeb page. If
you feel this would be of interest to your readers, please pass along.

Thanks for the great work you do.

B3

Thanks B3.
Readers, we have a WildWeb Dispatch Center listing on the News page, also accessible via the button at the top of this page. Scroll down to WildWeb Dispatch Center to access the map of dispatch centers. This is another page like the links and IMT pages that we work at keeping updated. If anyone has updated links, we appreciate knowing. Ab.

2/3


` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=TWO - DAYS - AFTER - RETENTION - DAY - DEADLINE=--=NO - RETENTION - STRATEGY=-
!!!-=NO - FOREST - SERVICE - RETENTION - MESSAGE - TO -CONGRESS=-!!!
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

~~~~~~~~~~  STILL NO JOY, Firefighters planning their exit  ~~~~~~~~~

2/2 It has been a great day of networking.

We'll see how things pan out, but I'd expect the stupid decisions
of the land managers are now on the radar of those that can effect
positive change.

As I warned before, the ire of local, state, and federal elected
officials has been stimulated, educated, and informed on the
repercussions of ill informed decisions about the wildland fire
program direction.

Almost everyone made aware of the recent decisions and direction
said WHAT???

/s/ Stay Tuned....
2/2 A New Beginning

Finally we have new management in the RO and WO that have taken a new approach to retention and other issues in R5. My hat is off to them, they rock. In my thirty+ years I could never have imagined to take this approach to solve problems. Knowing that things are hard to change in the Federal Government workplace and take a long time to do so, they have brilliantly came up with a plan in a matter of a couple of weeks. They have cleverly formulated a plan to stir up a hornets' nest that will bring a lot of attention and focus on the issues we have long been trying to address. Imagine if Sixty Minutes or 20-20 did a report on this, they would be like shinning in the spot light. What a wonderful attention getter.

Now they need our support. You need to contact your Congressessional Rep and your Senator, State and local politicians and, of course, the media. Don't let these Fire Managers down, give them the all the attention you can.

And PLEASE go out and VOTE.

Casey, what do you think now of "mission statement review"? It was nice meeting you in SoCal.

Batgirl12 you want to start a car pool?

Be alert, Keep calm, Think clearly, Act decisively.

firefighting forestry technician

2/2 Dear Curious:

I've only a hard copy and I don't trust my scanning abilities so likely a trip to
Kinko's on Monday will get it on a flash drive then I'll get them out...in the
Member's area at www.fwfsa.org.

Hey, membership has its advantages...:)

Casey
2/2 To: DR, range tech fed in NV,

Thank you for your post! I must agree with you and weigh in on this. If not being able to drive our GOVs home and back to work is the worst thing we are facing, then things aren't so bad. I have a feeling that this probably came about because somewhere down the line somebody has abused the privilege. I personally have observed a duty officer on my district taking his rig home during fire season when the district office is between his home and ANY incidents that he may respond to. To me, this is abusing the system. As a taxpayer, this is frustrating. Myself, I continue to answer my phone 24-7 during our designated fire season and drive my POV to the station for every call. No complaints!

To Misery Whip and NMAir Bear: I understand your frustrations as I am frustrated too. I must take exception to your constant barrage of the current administration. Like any other administration, there is incompetence within. Do you really think that this is the worst administration ever? Do you remember the Carter years? Given the current field of candidates (dem or rep), it is quite possible that Mark Rey could stay in his current position. I really don't believe that it is the intent of G.W. to destroy the federal wildland fire program and the land management agencies associated with the program. Again, there is incompetence within the administration, but I feel that is mostly on Mark Rey and Chief Kimball. I think that our frustration should be directed at the R5 RO leadership (if we could call them leaders). I personally think it is deplorable that the RF and the director of R5 FAM have not addressed ANYTHING that was discussed during the retention meeting back in December or the fact that they have not addressed congress yet. My thought is this: we are dealing with politicians - those at the RO and WO level and those in congress. As with all politicians, nothing is going to happen over night or quite possibly for months/years to come.

Super P
2/2 Ab, can you post the following contact info of those that the FWFSA and others have been working with to share info on this USFS train wreck. If all of those in the wildland fire service made a phone call a day to those list below that would only further our cause. Thanks

Senator Dianne Feinstein contact information

San Francisco
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710

The following counties are served by the San Francisco office: Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, Yuba.

Los Angeles
11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 914-7300
Fax: (310) 914-7318

The following counties are served by the Los Angeles office: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura.

San Diego
750 B Street, Suite 1030
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 231-9712
Fax: (619) 231-1108

The following counties are served by the San Diego office: Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, San Diego.

Fresno
2500 Tulare Street, Suite 4290
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: (559) 485-7430
Fax: (559) 485-9689

The following counties are served by the Fresno office: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Office- Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico
304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4971
Fax: (202) 224-6163

House of Gov't Reform led by Rep. Waxman of CA

In Washington, D.C.
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-3976 (phone)
(202) 225-4099 (fax)

In Los Angeles
8436 West Third Street, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 651-1040 (phone)
(818) 878-7400 (phone)
(310) 652-3095 (phone)
(323) 655-0502 (fax)

NonameFire

Do we have talking points? Ab.

2/2 DR range tech. in Nevada,
Are you kidding? <snip>

The point is not the take-home vehicle policy, or the red lights and siren policy, or the 1 year limit on govt. housing policy, or the lack of adequate pay (for our location not yours), or the lack of proper classification or gratitude or lack of support, or the misrepresentation of the Apprentice Program issuing Certification as Wildland Firefighter Specialists when no position for that description exists, or any one thing!  It is all of it on the face of an identified retention problem. A serious retention problem with a mandate from Congress to resolve it.  Get a clue!

signed,
What the ----

Good summary.
Contributors, including DR (who is indeed one of those older'n'dirt theysaiders who hasn't written in in years), let's keep this about issues, not about personalities. What's clear from DR's post is that one issue on theysaid is that for other Fed (BLM, NPS, FWS and BIA) firefighters and FS firefighters outside of R5 who do not live in expensive interface areas, it probably is difficult to boot up theysaid every day and read what's posted here that doesn't seem relevant to you. Those others can easily say "move if you don't like it" because they don't have the same issues that you've summarized so well. I say to those who have the greatest vested interest in change, continue to "show up" and say your piece, talk to your congressional reps and your local media. Superbowl is tomorrow. Relax, party hardy, then back to participating in the change process. Ab.

2/2 Casey, will you be posting those draft notes from the Dec 10th meeting?

Signed,

Curious
2/2 Remember when we used to cringe when Ray Q. would berate us for some perceived failing!

I do, I remember folks b!tching about how he would dictate things and brow beat us.

Dang, I miss his LEADERSHIP!

Special Ed needs to step up! PERIOD!
Oh, reality check...

Not going to happen!

signed,

fRusTrateD!
2/2 Hi to all:

A couple of responses.

To Gone But Not Forgotten:

Having been immersed in the downward spiral of the FS fire program for the last couple of years, I am convinced that your ire towards Mr. Harbour is misguided. His comments to you and your class were likely absolutely genuine and correct.

You are the future. Apparently however, rather than grabbing the wheel and taking control of the proverbial sinking ship, you have chosen the path of least resistance...leaving the federal system. No one is going to chide you and others who have done so. The priority in making such a decision should be what is best for you and your family.

However I'd ask you to read, or perhaps re-read Normbc9's post. The Agency is on its heels, and those that have developed and implemented fire policy without a lick of fire experience & expertise, resulting in this downward spiral are frantic.

The typical response from such a bureaucracy is to show the employees, in this case those in the fire program, who's boss as I've previously suggested. However this approach does nothing but compound the mess they have already made. If they had not been so self-righteous and accepted our efforts to help reduce costs and strengthen the fire program, they wouldn't be in this mess.

The focal point of your ire should be on Mark Rey, and perhaps in the not too distant future, Chief Kimbell if she too fails to respect the voices of her firefighters. Remember, Tom is an SES employee. If Rey or Kimbell don't like the color of his shirt on any given day, he's gone. He's in a tenuous situation at best. Perhaps we'd all like to see him climb up on the white stallion and go public or whatever and demonstrate the leadership that needs to be seen & heard. But I can tell you the thumb screws at the WO are turning just as they are at the Forest level.

I am optimistic either one of two things will happen in '08. Either the FS leadership will get a clue and take the lead to demonstrate to its firefighters that they are important to the Agency and make some significant changes OR Congress will force feed those changes to the FS. The ball is in their court.

If you've already left the federal system, good luck to you. But if you're already gone and unwilling to be part of the solution, then criticizing doesn't make much sense.

To Normbc9: Eloquent...thanks

To Norcal Capt: Haven't heard anything either although I have finally reviewed the draft notes of the meetings and was pleased to see classification, portal to portal and other important issues put on the table. Whether they will be included in the final product is anyone's guess.

To Misery Whip: I think we'd all like to see Tom take the lead and say enough is enough. Only time will tell if that will happen.

To Batgirl12: You are the epitome of why I do what I do. Hope to see you in Reno...

All of you who are so fed up with all of this, now is not the time to give up, piss and moan and just complain. I guarantee you folks on Capitol Hill are all over this. Their timetable may not be what ours is but I assure you they hear you and are working on solutions. It sure would be nice if the Agency was too.

Casey
2/2 Misery Whip,

Great post!!! You absolutely rock, my friend!!!

Thank you for saying exactly what I have been agonizing about trying to say for several days now. I worked for TH years ago and agree with you entirely about his being a "decent and honorable guy". If there is a silver lining to be had in this sh$tst0rm he is it, only if he does as you suggested. He is the one who has to live with his actions -and his friends- for the rest of his life.

There are a few in fed agencies other than USFS who also should consider doing the same. Otherwise when change comes to Washington late this year they need also to be swept away forthwith with "this administration’s henchpersons".

What is going on right now is exactly, exactly why I took an early retirement several years ago when the current "W" administration was just beginning to exert its political micromanagement and try to destroy professional wildland fire management in the federal land management agencies.

TH and others: Please step up!!!

Again, Misery Whip, YOU ROCK!

NMAirBear
2/2 WOW! This is just amazing!

The organization that I have worked for, fought for, and loved for 24 yrs.
is trying to pull itself apart!

I do bleed green, did not submit a supplemental application to CAL Fire
(it would be hard to work for such an organization after what I have seen),
would love to serve the public as best I can for years to come.

The 'shots across the bow' of Fire Management from the morons in the
WO and RO are a bit too much for me to stomach. I will go as soon as
possible if our 'management' does not show some 'leadership'.

Not holding out much hope. I must go now, have to update my application
on Monster.com.

/s/ so sad
2/2 Man, if the worst thing that happens in R5 is you are no longer able to drive your GOV rig home and to work everyday, so what! Welcome to the real world for every other federal land management agency outside of LA LA land. For those who say they are going to turn their phones off and not respond to a call when it comes in, WHY did you start this job in the first place?

Look, we work for the federal government. The federal government has rules that we have to follow, not only to protect the safety of federal employees, but to protect the taxpayer dollars that fund what we do. If you don't like it then don't work for the federal government. You are not CAL FIRE, or LAFD, or Orange County, or any other structure department. You work for the federal government as a forestry and range technicians (wildland firefighters). You made the decision to start the job, if you are not happy then go somewhere you will be happy.

I understand that there are a lot bigger issues than just this, but the amount of whining over this issue the last couple of days is ridiculous.

DR, range tech fed in NV

2/2 All,

Anyone else see something wrong with our Chief and Fire Director remaining quiet in this time of crisis? I was visiting with a well-known They Said poster at the McClellan WFTC a couple of days ago, we were both wondering why Tom Harbour had not fallen on his sword yet. We both speculated that Tom has probably put up with a ton of abuse from Mark Rey but feels he can do more good from the inside than the outside. Tom has done a lot of good things for the fire organization despite having to work under the Worst Administration Ever, and neither of us had any doubts that Tom is a decent and honorable guy. But the question needs to be asked, is it time for him to go to the media with this story?

In the past few years, there have been a couple of cases of government employees standing up and surviving despite the best efforts of this administration’s appointed political hacks to muzzle, discredit or fire them. James Hansen from NASA is gaining a sort of cult status for his refusal to let Bush’s minions silence the science on global warming. Other brave government employees have put their careers on the line by not allowing obvious wrongs to be permitted.

The slime layer of anti-government political appointees that has been suffocating the government will be gone in less than a year. There will be a major toilet-flushing in which Mark Rey, Lynn Scarlett, and the rest of their filthy ilk are sent packing to the Corporate Lobbyist Retirement Home, where they can reminisce on the good old days when W let them rape the government. Ho, ho, ho.

I don’t doubt that Tom would like to survive the current regime and lead our fire organization under a friendlier administration, but it seems almost immoral to ask our firefighters to support Doctrine and High Reliability Organizing while allowing Mark Rey to load us up with latent organizational failures without sounding an alarm.

Who knows, if Tom went public, he might find what James Hansen did; that many people, including an increasing number of politicians, are outraged at the Bush administration’s mismanagement of vital government institutions and would gladly support such a courageous act. If nothing else, Tom would earn the eternal respect of me and many others who are sick of being pawns of this administration’s henchpersons.

Misery Whip

2/2 POV and GOV

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself now that I can drive to work without being flipped off, flagged down to help with tire chains or to call a tow truck. I can drive right by vehicle accidents and sit in traffic in my POV and play Scrabble on my phone while we wait for CHP and a tow coming out of Riverside instead of Hesperia. I can't wait for the next 18 wheeler trying to skip the scales by traveling the mountain highway and gets stuck in the sharp hair-pin turns or stuck in the snow without chains. It usually takes hours to get the road open again and that's with me making notification to Dispatch, now that I travel off duty, I don't have to call if I don't want to. No guilty feelings here.

I can now leave at my lunch hour (too bad my nail lady is 45 minutes away) and I will take my two 15 minute breaks and drive somewhere just for the heck of it, in my POV of course. Wow, stopping at a gas station won't be the same. I can't imagine not being cursed at first thing in the morning over some new agency policy that I don't know about or could give a hoot about, but I defend it anyway. Have you ever been approached (ten years later) by a Vietnam Vet in a wheel chair who is still pissed off that his house burned down in the Willow fire? My fault that the fire started and my fault that he didn't have insurance. He actually stood up to lecture and poke his finger in my arm. I didn't say a word out of Honor and Respect to him for his service to the country. I cannot tell a lie, I did think about kicking the wheel chair out from under him. Hummm won't miss that either.

Now that I'll be in my POV and in my PJs, I can't imagine that happening anymore. My all time favorite thing is going to be taking up another parking spot in our all ready over crowded parking lot. I am going to get to work early just to insure that my POV and my GOV are parked side by side. I am not going to miss the late night, early morning calls from dispatch especially those that start out with "Girl you aren't going to believe this one" okay, I will miss those. Getting out of bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth, throwing on the uniform (well most of it), covering the hairdo with a hat as I ran out the door to respond, no more. Now I have time to shower, shampoo and shine, the hairdo won't be covered by a hat because I'll have time to perfect it. I'll even have time to put my boots on and lace them up!

If we get the "privilege" of home storage again which will come with the night call, I will consider that ORDERED STANDBY and I will be compensated. I didn't do that before, I considered it an equal trade, my life, your vehicle. I can't wait until I have the call four nights in a row. That'll be enough to buy a new Dooney and Bourke purse, the big one!

Now my big question is besides being WO employee's how do they justify Law Enforcement continuing with home vehicle storage? Just wondering.

BatGrl12 & Blossum (aka 5928) my beloved sidekick.......

PS The local dogs aren't going to be happy having to travel to Big Bear to take a leak on Blossums tires.

BatGirl12,
If you have to give Blossum's tires a shot of fertilizer now spontaneous donations have dried up, be sure and charge that to the FS. Ab.

POV = Privately Owned Vehicle; GOV = Government Owned Vehicle

2/2 Mr Thomas Harbour,

You stood in front of a couple hundred people at my academy graduation and said we were the future of the forest service and our choices would lead Fed fire in the ways it needed to go. Well you were right Fed fire is going in the trash can from the decisions you let happen. My future no longer is painted with green engines or buggies. Heck I'd pound nails in a ailing construction industry. Two things before I go. One why did you tell a bunch of bright eyed kids that they had a future with the Fed? I would like to see a push to get it fixed! (See earlier letter from someone else) Then maybe I won't help start the grass roots campaign to have every DFMO, ADFMO, Captain, FEO, AFEO, and every other person on the ground demand your immediate resignation, because I really don't think it would be hard to do right now Mr. Harbour.

Snowball,

Look at the mobility agreement. I was yanked around pretty hard on a Socal forest. My duty stations were anywhere from 90 to 120 miles from my original duty station and I didn't get per diem. They told me that my duty station had changed and that per diem wasn't their problem. Funny thing was, I always ended up back at my original duty station after those modules were done with me. Class action suit? Lemme know...very interested...

Gone but not forgotten

2/2 Hi Ab, I can’t resist.

To all my extended family in this great profession. Have you had enough yet? Actions speak louder than words. Another failure to include the most important instrument in this job (you) has been again stressed by managers who really are in a frantic state of mind. They never in their wildest dreams ever imagined you’d all get together and openly discuss their failures. You just don’t don’t do that in a dynasty do you? You're using a valuable tool (yourselves in concert) through the FWFSA and that is now really ruffling some feathers.

Tahoe Terri, it is the Empereer, not the Empress. She is just along for the ride and window dressing. Be safe, be strong, be supportive of the valuable voice you have, and support that voice. While you don’t have them totally on the run, they are, figuratively speaking, circling their horses looking for a way out of the box canyon.

God bless and give you strength, resolve and guidance too. This forum is the cohesive factor and use it judiciously too. The coordinators are as hurt as you are I feel.

Normbc9

It is interesting that theysaid feels more and more like a historical record of a transition away from the old and toward the new. We simply don't know yet what the new is. It's clear to fire and, I think also, to the Forest Service that we can't continue as in the past. Ultimately, it may take FAM Chief Harbour and the FS Chief Kimbell petitioning Congress and the President -- new President? -- for new streamlined marching orders for the FS and for Fire. I think they're going to have to kick the problem up the chain of command. That action may not come until after the Presidential and Congressional Elections of Nov '08. I only hope the R5 fire organization isn't gutted before we get to that request. Some of our highest fire and FS managers are now writing their historical legacy. Will they be recorded here as "famous and leading" or as "infamous"... Time will tell. I will be curious to see the outcome and the new trajectory. Ab.

2/2 Well its now 2 days past the deadline and no word about RETENTION!!!!!!!!

I was just throwing this out for comment, anyone interested in going to RO next weekend and showing the force of a simulated strike right in front of the building with the press called in of course to show the tax payers why we are so pissed off?? I do not think that Harbour or Hollenshed really give a rats A** about any of us, and our new regional forester is about as much of a leader as Custer: he will lead us all down a road to death!!!!!!!

If anyone is interested in doing this post it here and we can really get something going. This maybe really gutsy but I believe its time to show our so called leaders that we do not want them to lead us anymore....... I VOTE 100% NO CONFIDENCE

NORCAL Capt

Casey what have you heard and whats going on???????????

It's only 1 day. Yesterday was the deadline. Ab.

2/2 Retirement Party.. Lakeside FD DIV Chief Ken Kremensky

Hi AB,

Ken Kremensky is also on Molumby's CIIMT.. He's a great guy!!
His retirement party is at Barona Resort, Lakeside Ca. on Friday Feb. 8th
Not sure if it was posted but deadline for reservations is Monday Feb 4th

Call Karen Kuss at Lakeside Fire Dept. 619-390-2350 x 301

Thanks for all you do keeping us informed..

"fires4you2"

2/2 Not a bit surprised that the Retention plan didn't come out today.

I think the RO and WO are getting back at us here in R5 regarding the code 3 crap and not letting our chiefs take their vehicle home when congress told the FS to do something about the Retention issue in R5. I know we can't strike but I think we should do something. I might contact my local Media stations about this. As well to Senator Feinstein. This is unreal, why are we going backwards? We might as well start wearing jeans instead of nomex. Have a Fire shelter and a canteen and one Ht per engine. Get rid of 10 and 18's.

Wake up Leadership or whatever you call yourself. You're just pushing folks out the door even more.
Ab sorry for speaking my mind.

fsff

Speak your mind. Call your congressional reps. Alert the news media. Join FWFSA and work collectively. Ab.

2/2 With everything going on in the Forest Service I simply cannot hold this back. For all of you who wish to remain in the Federal Wildland Fire Service The Department of Interior Agencies would be happy to have you. Although we too have our own issues we seem to work them out. I'm sure we can find you a home with a lot less stress and stronger leadership. I jumped ship from the FS 20 years ago and have never even entertained the idea of going back.

BLM FMO
2/2 With all of the whoop-la going on, I thought you all might find this interesting...
------------------------------------------------------

RETIREMENT PLANNING FOR 2008
If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00.
With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1000.00.
With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.
If you had purchased $1000 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left

But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have had $214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. It's called the 401-Keg Plan.

Drunk and happy,
(why not?...I'm laid off...)

-Joatmon

hawhawhawhaw, Joatmon, you are too much. Ab.

2/2 What the - - - -,

As I look toward the possibility of anyone hired under the WFAP as being eligible for a class action suit for negligent misrepresentation, ( ...i.e: hired under the misrepresentation of "the recognized occupation of Wildland Firefighter Specialist"...) I surely think you may have the right idea. Dept of Labor and the CFRs seem to pave the way in this specific case...

Maybe you have a case as well?

sign me,
Slowly building a snowball.
2/2 Another Deadline Comes and Goes.

I respectively request the R-5 Brothers and Sisters who participated in the firefighter retention meeting to immediately begin to discuss the details of what you worked on the week of Dec 10th in this forum, starting this weekend. This is not a demand, just a reasonable request for you to let us know what is being worked on. You have all met your confidentiality requirements. It is upper management officials in the room who have missed 4 deadlines.

Signed,

Do the Right Thing

It has been in the works that if the deadline came and went there would be more coming. Key will be getting it into a form to share here. Ab.

2/2


` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=ONE - DAY - AFTER - RETENTION - DAY - DEADLINE=--=NO - RETENTION - STRATEGY=-
!!!-=NO - FOREST - SERVICE - RETENTION - MESSAGE - TO -CONGRESS=-!!!
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

~~~~~~~~~~  NO JOY, Firefighters planning their exit  ~~~~~~~~~

2/1 Enough is Enough.........

Mr Thomas Harbour,

We have now reached the point, the threshold of a complete meltdown. Your Fire Leaders are shutting off cell phones at night and looking for other careers. Your emergency vehicles have been ordered not to respond to emergencies with red lights and siren until hours of staff time is spent on each Forest developing plans on how to drive using red lights and siren. Jealous, inexperienced and confused Line Officers and other non-fire managers are making decisions that are effectively moving your fire organization to edge of disaster. It won't be long until more political leaders start asking more questions about what is going on with Firefighters in R-5. Everyday elective officials are hearing from us. Pressure is only going to build until this caves in on you and Chief Kimbell.

You are a Type I IC and Area Commander. You know what it takes to lead. It was not long ago you managed the Angeles NF, ground zero for progressive forest fire service management. It wasn't long ago you created the first ever 24 emergency staffing plan. It wasn't long ago you drove your Chief Officer vehicle 35 miles to work at the SO in Arcadia.

I recommend that you immediately form an independent emergency intervention panel of experts lead by someone like Greg Greenhoe using an ICS organization and principles to aggressively search for solutions.

You must act now and demand change, even if it costs you your position. If you do not act now, then you have my vote of no confidence and I ask you for your resignation.

Letterman

PS - Great post Sting
2/1 Very nice photo for February of the WLF.com Calendar! Purchase one or more now!!! Click the link above; use the discount. Ab.
2/1 Marc Mullenix

The call I got today...

I worked with Marc 20 years ago. I learned a great deal from him, enjoyed his company, and was proud to work for him. He watched over his people, and went out of his way to help in whatever way he could. We kept in touch over the years, and he was recently trying to guide me with some advise and assistance with a possible instructing opportunity. Even after all the years, he was still trying to help! But that's the kind of guy he was. On a personal note, he gave me sound advice when I was going through a tough situation, and I appreciated it more than he knew.

We lost a good one. My heart goes out to Shawna, Nicki, the rest of his family, Karen, and all the others who knew and loved him.

Clay

2/1 Use of Gov. Vehicle for Home to Work Transportation

Here are the info (documents, info & forms) that were available to download
from the Los Padres NF.

Local Union 2023 president is willing to help the forest user obtain the
corrected action needed to help the application get the approval from their
recommending staff on the departmental regulations to have a new validated
agreement in place.

I am the Local union President 2023

JLD

012508use-of-gov-vehicle-home-use.doc
020108use-of-gov-vehicle-lpf.doc
ad-728.doc
home-to-work-law-reg-policy.doc

Thanks. Nothing like an EASY button. Ab.

2/1 Casey,

This recent event should clearly demonstrate to the Political Leaders that something needs to be done to stop this downward spiral of the Region 5 Federal Fire Program.

I read the postings about the Restriction about driving Code 3, a regular and required practice, and the guy who put this decision out needs to be investigated and removed. This is pure incompetence, this is an attack directly on how firefighters operate.

What is next, elimination of overtime, hazard pay, Sunday Premium, and other special pay incentives? Perhaps the firefighters will need to pool their money to pay for fuel for the engine out of their pockets? Perhaps this man or woman will insist that every federal firefighter bow down to this individual and kiss their feet before they be allowed to do their job.

Casey, you are doing a fine job getting support for the federal firefighter issues, but perhaps now is the time to call Senator Feinstien's, Speaker Pelosi, and (my least favorite) Senator Boxer, and bring this to their attention.

I know you work in the Federal Arena, but this is a mandate that will affect response time for other agencies also, such as CDF, the Interior agencies that won't follow this rule, and the local governments. Can't some of those agencies' leaders make some public comment about the stupidity of this mandate?

Something has to happen to change this downward spiral, and it needs to be now. The public needs to be made aware of what is going on.

Good Luck, Casey. Do not let this one go by the wayside.

Tommy H. says hello, and its good to be retired. He still smokes like a chimney, though.

MOC4546
2/1 COMT,

I think the on-call Sierra NF Dispatcher got paid throughout the night during
fire season using the same rules shown in your post. I don't know if they still
do this, however it may be something to check out. If the Dispatcher is
expected to answer the phone, the Duty Officer they regularly call should
receive compensation a well.

ms
2/1 Is it true that the Forest Service only completed the "continuity of operations plan" for the Washington Office (WO)? Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) are required under HSPD-20.

Some forests have completed "hurricane plans", "earthquake plans", tornado plans", or even non- specific "disaster plans" to ensure some level of continued emergency response during natural disasters. These forests are forward thinking and being leaders. After 9/11, these plans are the key examples of what a COOP should be.

Seems the bulk of the core programs that the Forest Service is responsible for occur on the district and forest level, not the bureaucratic WO level. Shouldn't the Forest Service COOP been addressed from the bottom up rather than the top down? Many other federal agencies went about their COOP planning in far different ways focusing on providing essential emergency services.

I've read the FS COOP plan and it sure doesn't seem to meet either HSPD-20 (COOP) or HSPD-5 (Management of Domestic Incidents) in the event of an emergency. The Forest Service will be poorly prepared to meet its ESF4 (Firefighting) responsibilities.

Facts can even stop a Category 5 WO and RO "clarification of the mission". The Forest Service fire program showed its stuff during Hurricane Katrina and countless other emergencies.

Fedwatcher

P.S. Sting, you rock!!!
2/1 Capt34,

Good to see your input.
Years of experience, excellent credentials listed.....what would be the specifics of your proposal?
Share with us an "If I were in charge, I'd......"
Time to move the dialogue on this site from "I'm not happy with what "They" are doing." We get that.
Who has some specific solutions or recommendations?

Ab,
Does anyone go to the FireChat site anymore? Are there regular discussions at a specific time?

OFG (ret)

I don't know. Folks, you could go to fire chat and discuss issues. Button at the top of the page. Ab.

2/1 For anyone who desires to have a take home vehicle in the forest service,
I suggest taking a look at the form required, and filling it out to present to
your supervisor. It is the AD-728. If you fit the requirements, then you
should have no problems.

Just a suggestion.

Guns n hoses
2/1 With all of the turmoil in Region 5's non-fire leadership over the last year, I wonder if the Region 5 Fire Program partners (FIRESCOPE) will step up and defend the changes that have happened since 1970?

The land managers of the Washington Office and the R5 Regional Office are "clarifying the mission" without the input of significant stakeholders such as FIRESCOPE and other state and local government partners. Most of the decisions being made to "clarify the mission" also have little substantial input from the Forest Service Fire Management Officers at the WO, RO, GACC, Forest, and District levels.

FIRESCOPE: Past, Present, and Future (huge 11 mb ppt file)

Will there be a future in the Forest Service Fire Program?

Lobotomy
2/1 Is Feb 9th the day CalFire will be making offers? Someone
said they thought so today.

Todd

2/1 Ab, all others, anyone,

I have been reading the discussion that deals with afterduty hours responses, unpaid standby and electric notification devices that call you for assignments on and off the clock. I understand that OT is a large factor to some and most will do whatever to make it to all afterduty calls, off district assignments etc...

I have but one question, ok, a couple. Isn't it against the law (Federal, state etc) to ask a employee to basically volunteer their time if not on duty? From my understanding it violates FSLA law to even ask a seasonal or fulltime employee to not get compensated during a "standby" scenario. I understand "evening staffing patterns" (compensated) or two hour callback to gather for strike team or to get the crew together for a assignment during "days off " (compensated). But, FLSA law prohibits any non compensative acts such as night duty without pay or forcing a person to live closer to his/her duty station to meet two hour offduty timeframe callbacks. Nor does it state that it is mandatory for any seasonal, part-time, intern, apprentice, probational or fulltime person to work and NOT GET COMPENSATED; it's illegal. I had to do a shift change to respond to the Angora fire as we were not in a mandatory staffing pattern at my station. I also understand that if there are certain staffing patterns in place all bets are off and you will be at work, but compensated. Without me being scheduled or called back on a emergency status, I cannot work without compensation. I have tried to "volunteer my time as a fulltime employee and have been HAMMERED for going against FLSA. If my station calls me in the early morning, on a day off or in the middle of the night, then I'm on "call back" and I report and will be compensated for my time. Maybe I'm wrong here (most likely) but it is illegal to enforce rules that completely contradict FLSA.

As for our Batt chiefs or higher, they need their vehicles all the time, period. Patrol types of engine captains on a 40 hour week should be able to take their utility and/or patrol rigs home. Their jobs require them to respond after normal duty hours frequently. I think that the issues raised regarding un-compensated standby need to be heavily scrutinized and fought over. How can we do our jobs, regardless the time of year, if our leaders have to drive from their homes, get their rigs and then IC a incident that has already been going for 30-40 minutes plus. We DEPEND on our coops and they do the same for us. Without each other we are really cheating our customers.

The way it reads to me is, you work from 0930-1800 unless you are on a compensated staffing pattern. Your shift ends, you go home (within 2 hours of your duty station, of course). Have your pager on you at all times because you might get a call at anytime. Don't have a drink because we need you 24/7/365 but you won't be getting paid for stopping your normal home life rituals. Your days off, not really there "MIGHT" be a fire. If you aren't within a 2 hrs range you will be held "accountable" even if it's not during normal duty hours or on a day off. Basically you need to work 14 days on an assignment to be able to have enough freedom to have a beer and get paid for it (the beer thing, just one example). The pager/cell phone thing, if you don't have one then you are in violation of you duty to act or availability? Weird...

I am a proponent, especially during fire season, of making myself as available as I can. I have a pager, they have my home and cell #'s. But if I'm on a day off and they can't get hold of me, #1 there is a reason for it, #2 I'm not available or I decide to have days off and let someone else go on assignment. 9/10 my captains and above understand and if I am on mandatory callback, I'm paid for it. I come in and work. They don't get pissed and hold me to a standard that is illegal. If we want our folks to sacrifice their time away from their families, then darn it we should compensate them, not threaten with vague SOGs, not SOPs. Again I'm probably wrong and wasted all of your time here. GO GET EM' CASEY!!!

Have a good weekend!!

Driver51

2/1 Dear COMT:

With all due respect, most of the "rigs" that are the focus of so many posts lately are command vehicles used by battalion chiefs, division chiefs, Fire Management Officers, etc. So in fact those impacted by any such policy are management personnel and not represented by NFFE.

What you are witnessing is the management (establishment and implementation of policies) of the largest fire department in the Nation by Agency employees (line officers) who have little to no fire experience or expertise. In the 21st century, with the complexities of wildfire, this is a recipe for disaster which is why, in my not-so-humble opinion, the Forest Service Fire program is imploding.

The Forest Service has simply become another bloated bureaucracy with too many policies, and, in the case of the fire program, too many policies that would not otherwise exist if the program was managed like a fire department by fire personnel.

Time for some change &, drum roll please....COMMON SENSE.

Casey
2/1 When we find a lawyer interested in taking on an "Employees' vs. USDA" class action lawsuit, you might let them know about the time "Forestry Technicians" spend away from family sleeping on the ground in Fire Camp... OFF THE CLOCK.This does include 1/2 an hour unpaid while eating lunch "ON A FIRE".Or the 200+ dollars it costs a Forestry Technician to buy "Agency Required boots every other season.

Signed,

Waiting for a Class Action Suit

(P.S. Still proud to wear green pants)
2/1 First off, I am appalled at our agency or our non-fire management in charge
in region 5. The recent code 3 issue, the home storage issue for fire
managers. It seems this is all a ploy to address the retention problem,
NOT!

As of now Congresses dead line has not been addressed, do they really
think that Congress is not going to act and man date the agency to comply.

Or are the pencil pushing non-fire management and leadership hoping to
destroy a great agency fire program and what R-5 has lead the other regions
in innovation and setting the standards. We are the beat in what we do
and lead the Nation in fire suppression. ES, you said it, It is no longer
a Cal Fire issue, it is changing careers, leaving what we know and we do
best, leaving this agency high and dry. I personally have 28 years in this
agency, OPS 2, ICT3, OPBD, DIVS, on down the line of invested time in
training and qualifications and time that towards every other person that
has had enough of the cr#*p that has been shoveled out. Shame on our
agency to force our hands to bail, shame on them to break apart the fire
program in region 5, to think that they gotten away with not taking care of
its employees.

I'd hoped that with all the controversy going on, and in the lime light of
news and in Congresses hand, that they would have come up with a
resolution to fix the problem. High hopes.

Capt34...

2/1 10AM policy:

Does the Forest Service want to fight fire by the 10:00 am policy?

Without Chief Officers storing their emergency vehicles closer to home, that may
be exactly what happens. This policy would not allow for any responses other
than 930 to 6.

I know it is not the original policy, this one wasn't thought of by fire personnel.

Maybe that is what the Land Managers want. At 930 I'll roll into the District
Office (shorts and Hawaiian T-shirt) and turn on the radio. I'f there was any
activity from my off-time that requires a response, I'll don my nomex and begin
my Duty.

It is ridiculous that Duty Officers even take night 'Duty' in the first place. This is
uncompensated stand by! In this struggle of Land Managers & Fire equality you
don't see any ologists stuck at home committed to night responses and filling
resource orders for other people.

Does this "Night Duty" deserve a class action against the Forest Service? I think
it might be worthy. It sure doesn't seem right to have a job duty that requires work
off the clock. There may be an era of a Fire Settlement Agreement in our future!

Sign me,
What the ----

2/1 Just so you all know the "ignition points" of the rig "take home" issue
and the "lights & sirens" issue:

Taking rigs home: R5 Regional Office-Vicki (I'm going to retire, nah
just joking I'm staying to destroy more firefighter morale) Jackson

Lights & Sirens: Washington Office-Engineering Dept. (which,
according to WO insiders, rarely if ever discusses anything with FAM)

Go figure:

Fedwatcher II
2/1 To: Normbc9,

I printed a copy of the photo you posted and I will get it to Mr. Donohue.
He lives in Dolores, Colorado and has been retired from CDF for 30 years
this year. I'll tell him you said hello but I don't know your real name. If
you want, you can send to me at my e-mail address.

Thanks,
KJoseph

I forwarded your email on. Ab.

2/1 Have not read the R5 statement about taking FS rigs
home, and this might not apply, but it might help
someone.

If it is to be able to respond to calls from work, you
should be paid for being on call. We went through this
and got the Union involved.

The key questions are:
  • Am I required to leave a telephone number or
    carry an electronic device for the purpose of being
    contacted?
  • Am I required to remain within a reasonable
    callback radius?
  • Will I be held accountable for responding to
    calls?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, you
should ask your supervisor to put these conditions in
writing, or otherwise document them. When Management
imposes these conditions on an employee to meet a
mandatory coverage need, it is placing the employee on
standby for such a purpose and is required by the MA
to consider such time as hours of work. This is
especially the case if no other employees are
available to cover Management's need.

So request standby pay if they want you to be
available off duty.

NFFE Document on Standby Assignments (165K doc file)

COMT

2/1 Re the Towncrier story:

Thanks for the compliment on the story, Firescribe. I tried to get OSHA to
comment but they wouldn't return calls from DC. As I scrolled down, Ab,
I saw your blinking light note about Feb 1 Retention Day. I laughed out loud
so loud everyone turned.

Nice job. My compliments!!

JP

Thanks for keeping the socal journalist torch burning, JP. Firefighters appreciate it. Ab.

2/1 Shirley Sutliff has Retired!

After 33 Years 6 Months and 19 days, she finally did it!!

Please join us to celebrate Shirley’s career and retirement
Who: All her friends
When: February 4, 2008
Location: Buca Di Beppo Italian Restaurant
1249 Howe Avenue, Sacramento CA.
Time: No host happy hour @ 4:30 p.m. Dinner will begin @ 5:30
This restaurant is family style dining and the menu can be viewed at www.bucadibeppo.com.
Each person will place their own order
Gift donations will be accepted ahead of time by Sandy Faulkner and at the door. A gift card for REI will be purchased with the gift money (Shirley’s favorite place)

RSVP by phone to Sandy Faulkner sandylfaulkner at fs.fed.us No later than February 1, 2008

That's today! Happy Retirement, Shirley! Ab.

2/1 From Firescribe:

By a circuitous route, originally the link came from Larry Sutton
Fire Operations Risk Management Officer
U.S. Forest Service - NIFC

Near miss data in Aviation being used to reduce accidents
www.washingtonpost.com

2/1 From FP

Code 3

Emergency Light Use

Headlights and taillights will be illuminated at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Emergency lighting will be used only during on site wildland fire operations or to mitigate serious safety hazards. Overhead lighting and other emergency lighting must meet state code requirements, and will be illuminated whenever the visibility is reduced to less than 300 feet. Blue lights are not acceptable for wildland fire operations.

Light Use Visibility
Headlights and taillights shall remain illuminated at all times while the vehicle is in operation. Overhead lighting (or other appropriate emergency lights) shall be illuminated whenever visibility is reduced to less than 300 feet.

Chapter 14
14-3

Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations
BLM, NPS, FWS, FS
January 2008
NFES 2724

2/1 Hi Ab,

About 1982 the Forest Supervisor on the San Bernardino responded
to an interface fire and encountered a CHP roadblock. The FS had no
lights or siren. He was ordered to turn around and leave. He countered
that he was the Forest Supervisor, and was told that only emergency
equipment would be allowed to enter the area.

The next day the shop got an order to install emergency equipment on
the Forest Supervisor's vehicle.

Sounds like some people will need to go through that experience again.

John Hatcher
Retired BDF FFMO
2/1 Domaque,

Thank you for the info. I appreciate all info re: CISD. I hope to start a
program at the FD I work for that could someday branch out to all
agencies nationally since we all work together on the same calls.

Ab, could you please send my info to Domaque? Ab, Thanks again
for the numbers you sent me!!

Driver51

I forwarded your email. Ab.

2/1 From Firescribe: Good article. Posted yesterday.

OSHA issues final report on Esperanza
By J.P. Crumrine, Assistant Editor
www.towncrier.com/stories/story.1.20080131.phpl

2/1 With all this commotion regarding the Region 5 code three policy,
is this (or will it be) affecting anything outside of California?

I know if we had a wildland fire in/near my town in Northern Arizona
and the Forest Service did not respond code three to the incident,
there would be H*ll to pay. The FS are considered local cooperators
and will respond as such. Also, the local FS DC and selected fire
staffers still get to take home their "company" trucks (even during the
winter).

AZ Trailblazer
2/1 Ab,

Did anyone take a close look at those various directive letters and documents.
Were the sent to Congress as part of the R5 retention message? Maybe the
Region met its deadline????

Tahoe Terrie

Haw Haw Haw, Ab.

2/1 Retention:

Been wanting to post for a long time...had a few things on my mind.

I see a pattern here again...Feb 1st is going to come and go with no new info. The carrot is dangling again, and we continue to try and catch it. Management is taking away our collar brass, the ability to take rigs home for night calls, and the ability to use lights and sirens when we actually need them. Why do we allow this agency to keep taking advantage of us like this? There is really nothing more that they can take away from us. This isn't b*tching, this is stating the fact that we as Emergency Responders are being stripped of all our tools. We have a hard enough time proving to other agencies that we are competent professionals as it is.

What the higher ups need to understand is that people are not just leaving for Cal Fire jobs. People are going to leave for any other job they can find. People I talk to are starting to look for jobs that are 180 degree change from what they do now. It isn't worth the liability and time away from family to do this job anymore. I feel there is zero support, and watch on this site everyday that some Forester or regional manager is taking something else away from the dirt pounders. I hope something good comes from all this, but I just don't see it happening. It's a huge bummer.

ES

Welcome. We hear you. Ab.

2/1 Re: Lights and Sirens

When I used to leave my house at O'Dark Thirty (Rescinded by Regional Forester letter, R5), I often left my residence with the red lights on and without the siren (didn't want to offend the neighbors who were sleeping).

As I rounded my turn, I would either activate the siren or turn off the red lights based upon road conditions and congestion (Doctrine). If I needed to "request right of way" I utilized both the emergency vehicle lighting and siren to comply with both the California Vehicle Code and FSM direction at the time.

The new FSM direction only seems to be info that was "incorporated by reference" to existing best known procedures for safe emergency vehicle operation that is already addressed by most state vehicle codes.

I guess the foresters and biologists need to decide what "emergent" means and what the repercussions are when responding to emergencies and the consequences. They sure as he*l don't listen to the folks who have been doing it for 20+ years as wildland firefighters anymore.

Arroyo Toad down... Tijuana Slough inlet 7.... proceed Code 3... or was that Code 2.. or Code 1? (That is why there are wildland firefighters who should be making sound wildland fire decisions, and why biologists, foresters and others WHO think they are making sound decisions need to be replaced in the leadership of the fire program.)

What scared me most was when the District Rangers started going code 3 (1987) (Sorry Gabe, you are the exception and a shining star of Line Officer involvement with fire experience who listens to the fire managers).

/s/ Noname Forestry Technician Fire Manager

2/1 Ab,

I am sensing some historical irony here. In " Fire in the Forest, A History of Forest Fire Control on the National Forests in California, 1898-1956 " by Robert Cermak, sanctioned and published by the USFS. On page 347 in the epilogue he writes:

" In the fifty years ( 1956-2005 ) following the end of this history, fire control would become so complicated, so intertwined in controversy, legislative battles and the overwhelming impact of huge population growth that it should be considered not as just new chapters for this history but an entirely new volume of historical inquiry.

In Region 5, the agency built it's reputation on controlling fire and still receives support for its fire control program. For several decades after 1955, fire management moved from a starring role in the agency to one of the supporting cast for timber, wildlife, recreation and other resource management. In 2005 it may again be on the rise, perhaps because the old axiom of forestry, that a resource must be protected before it can be managed, still holds true today."

Considering Cermak's summary of where it has been, where it is and where it is going. Could we be witnessing the last gasp of the foresters trying to hold onto a program (let's face it, the money) when they have no idea what the new paradigm is in regards to modern fire control?

The latest decrees coming from the Regional Office are coming in loud and clear to us on the ground, especially amplified by the R6 collar brass issue and it is "You are not a fire department so quit acting like one. .

Well here is a decree coming from the boots and backs on the ground that make all those political appointees, foresters and line officers look so good on their performance ratings "you are not fire managers so quit acting like you are ".

Well, my Forest Service paradigm shift is completed, this is not what it used to be, it is just a JOB now. This summer, if I am still around, I will gladly park my truck at the district office every night, leave my cell phone and pager in it, designate the district ranger as the duty officer, take my scanner to the thrift store, leave my HT in the truck on my weekend, change my home phone number and finally get some days off and good nights sleep through the months of May through November.

On my weekends, I can make up for the 17 lost summers with my wife and children after blindly devoting myself to "caring for the land and serving the people" since all this time I have assumed I was valued and respected by the agency, not just my peers. This really is the 1-way loyalty street.

apologies to my friends and peers for the rant, sting

2/1 Lights and Sirens

Re: It sure ain't rocket science.... or forestry.

Ab,

Years ago... many years ago, this issue was addressed. I remember this completely when I provided comments as a former District Vehicle License examiner and was asked to make comments for the Region 5 Code 3 program (1991). Most of the laws and regulations haven't changed. I taught this subject (among others) for 6 years as a cadre member (1998-2004) of the South Zone Fire Engine Academy.

The California Vehicle Code is complex, but easily understood if folks read all of the chapters pertaining to emergency vehicle operation before jumping in to make policy or provide direction. Once again, the wildland firefighters are the experts, the land managers are the barriers to successful delivery of the program.

Folks often misquote the California Vehicle Code as requiring a siren to be activated during emergency response.
See bolded area below. It is a common mistake by folks who "skim".

Most importantly within the California Vehicle Code is "Duty of driver, 21807." (Below in reference)

Exemption of Authorized Emergency Vehicles

21055. The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle is exempt from Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 21350), Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 21650), Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 21800), Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 21950), Chapter 6 (commencing with 22100), Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 22348), Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 22450), Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 22500), and Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 22650) of this division, and Article 3 (commencing with Section 38305) and Article 4 (commencing with Section 38312) of Chapter 5 of Division 16.5, under all of the following conditions:

(a) If the vehicle is being driven in response to an emergency call or while engaged in rescue operations or is being used in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law or is responding to, but not returning from, a fire alarm, except that fire department vehicles are exempt whether directly responding to an emergency call or operated from one place to another as rendered desirable or necessary by reason of an emergency call and operated to the scene of the emergency or operated from one fire station to another or to some other location by reason of the emergency call.

(b) If the driver of the vehicle sounds a siren as may be reasonably necessary and the vehicle displays a lighted red lamp visible from the front as a warning to other drivers and pedestrians.

A siren shall not be sounded by an authorized emergency vehicle except when required under this section.

Reference

California Vehicle Code

Go to: Authorized Emergency Vehicle

AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLE

Ambulances, see AMBULANCE
Bicycle paths, 23127
Color, 27605
Defined, 165
Device changing traffic control signals, 21464
Duty of driver, 21807
Emergency area, 21707
Equestrian trail, 23127
Equipment, 2418.5, 24003-24004, 25102, 25251, 25252-22525.5, 25258-25259, 27000, 27002
Hiking trails, 23127
Liability, 17004
Load provisions, applicability of, 35002
Permit, 2416-2417
Policy, legislative intent, 30
Right-of-way, 21806
Rules of road applicable to, 21055, 21056
Size provisions, applicability of, 35002
State park vehicle, 2416
Vehicle following, 21706
Weight provisions, applicability of, 35002

By the way,

Did I tell you that a bunch of Battalion Chiefs, Division Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs, and Forest Fire Chiefs had to "hitchhike" home today?..... and that much of the Forest Service in Region 5 now has no night coverage by Chief Officers?

I've always wondered what would happen if the Forest Service had a fire and nobody responded..... I guess we'll see the results.

Ken

2/1 Very interesting timing on the collar brass, emergency lights and duty officers taking
vehicles home memos; it gives me the idea that the Regional Foresters in R5 and R6
are not clear on the concept of retention.

Perhaps they are hoping all the fire people will quit and they can hire new employees
who are interested in their fantasy 1940’s Forest Service. Is it possible to be charged
with contempt of congress?

I usually have mixed feelings about a separate fire organization but with these kinds of
games going on it’s like a big sign saying DHS take me away.

Stunned in R5
2/1


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